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Elon Musk visits Israel to meet top leaders as accusations of antisemitism on X grow

By Associated Press
Published: November 27, 2023, 8:30am

Elon Musk, who’s been under fire over accusations of antisemitism flourishing on his social media platform X, paid a visit Monday to Israel, where he toured a kibbutz that was attacked last month by Hamas militants and was set to meet with top leaders.

The billionaire and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the Kfar Azza kibbutz, a rural village that Hamas militants stormed on Oct. 7 in a deadly assault that launched the war.

Musk, wearing a protective vest and escorted by a phalanx of security personnel as rain fell, used his phone to take photos or videos of the devastation, according to video released by Netanyahu’s office.

The Tesla CEO and prime minister visited the homes of some victims, including the family of Abigail Edan, a 4-year-old girl with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship who was held hostage by Hamas after her parents were killed. She was released Sunday in the latest round of exchanges during a cease-fire in Gaza that is set to expire after Monday.

“It was jarring to see the scene of the massacre,” Musk later said in an X Spaces conversation with Netanyahu. Musk said he was troubled by video and photos that the prime minister showed him of the killings of civilians, including children.

They spoke broadly about the conflict, the protests it has generated, Hamas, the Middle East and more but did not touch on antisemitism online. Netanyahu said he hoped Musk would be involved in building a better future, to which the billionaire replied, “I’d love to help.”

Musk also was due to meet Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Benny Gantz, a former defense minister who’s now part of a special war Cabinet.

Government spokesperson Eylon Levy declined to say whether Musk was invited or came on his own. X, formerly known as Twitter, did not respond to a request for comment.

Israel’s communications minister, Shlomo Karhi, tweeted earlier Monday about a deal that his ministry had reached with Musk’s Starlink satellite internet company.

“As a result of this significant agreement, Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, including the Gaza Strip,” Karhi wrote, without providing further details.

Musk has faced accusations from the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights organization, and others of tolerating antisemitic messages on the platform since purchasing it last year, and the content on X has gained increased scrutiny since the war between Israel and Hamas began.

A slew of big brands, including Disney and IBM, decided to stop advertising on the platform after a report by liberal advocacy group Media Matters said ads were appearing alongside pro-Nazi content and white nationalist posts. It came the same week Musk endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory that drew outcry, including from the White House.

Musk responded on X this month to a user who accused Jews of hating white people and professing indifference to antisemitism by posting, “You have said the actual truth.”

X has since sued Media Matters, saying the Washington-based nonprofit manufactured the report to “drive advertisers from the platform and destroy X Corp.”

Monday’s visit is not the first time Musk and Netanyahu have met. Netanyahu came to California in September, telling the Tesla CEO that he hopes Musk can find a way to roll back antisemitism and other forms of hatred within the limits of the First Amendment.