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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Musk to meet Israeli president

The owner of X has gone to Israel amid accusations of anti-Semitism

Elon Musk, the owner of X (formerly Twitter), is set to meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to discuss anti-Jewish sentiments and ways to tackle them on social media, the office of the President of Israel confirmed on Sunday.

During the meeting on Monday, they will be joined by Israelis whose family members have been taken hostage by Hamas during the militant group’s deadly attack on Israel last month.

Read more: Musk under fire after endorsing ‘anti-Semitic’ post

“In their meeting, the president will emphasize the need to act to combat rising anti-Semitism online,” Herzog’s office said, as cited by Reuters. The entrepreneur has yet to confirm the visit.

The Tesla CEO will also meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, according to Israel’s Channel 12, may even tour the Israeli settlements along the Gaza border, in what critics claim is an attempt to salvage his public image.

Ever since purchasing Twitter and rebranding it as X last year, Musk has faced criticism from mainstream media and various rights groups for allegedly tolerating racist messages. Musk’s push for free speech on the social media platform was coupled with an attempt to eliminate Twitter’s political bias. According to the Twitter Files, under previous management, the platform had helped block dissemination of a bombshell report on alleged influence-peddling by Joe Biden’s family, just three weeks before he was elected president.

Read more: Elon Musk speaks in favor of Gaza, amid Israel-Hamas conflict

Earlier this month, Musk was accused of personally promoting an anti-Semitic trope after he said he agreed with another user who suggested that Jewish people are stoking “hatred against whites.”

Following the scandal, several major companies including IBM, Disney, Paramount and Apple pulled their advertisements from the platform.’

Musk has denied the allegations of anti-Semitism, threatening with suspension anyone advocating “for the genocide of any group.” In a post on X on Friday, the billionaire added that terms such as “decolonization” and the slogan “from the river to the sea” are phrases that “imply genocide” and would be sufficient to trigger a ban.

Both are used by supporters of the Palestinian cause, who accuse the State of Israel of being a colonial enterprise and implicitly hope for all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River to be part of a future Palestinian state. Musk added that “clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will result in suspension.”  

Following a meeting with Netanyahu in September, during which the Israeli PM urged the tech entrepreneur to strike a balance between protecting freedom of expression and fighting hate speech, he even claimed that he was in fact “aspirationally Jewish.”