Technology

Elon Musk visits Israel after antisemitism row

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Israel’s president has told Elon Musk he has “an important role” in preventing antisemitism, which both he and his social media platform X have been accused of promoting.

Addressing the entrepreneur, Isaac Herzog said social media “including some you lead – harbor so much of the age-old disease of antisemitism”.

On Monday Mr Musk visited a kibbutz Hamas targeted in its deadly attack.

He toured the Kfar Aza with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Musk was shown footage of the 7 October attacks on Israel by Hamas, in which 1,200 people died and 240 were taken hostage, including brutal footage from bodycams. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says more than 14,500 people have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory campaign.

The pair also held a brief live-streamed conversation on X, during which Mr Musk agreed with Mr Netanyahu that the only way to obtain peace and security was to destroy Hamas.

“You first have to get rid of the poisonous regime as you did in Germany, as you did in Japan. Yeah, in World War Two,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Mr Musk replied: “There’s no choice. There’s no choice.”

The trip also saw an agreement reached over Mr Musk’s satellite internet service, Starlink.

After Gaza experienced major internet disruption and outages as Israel intensified its military operations, Mr Musk had suggested giving Starlink to major aid organisations in the territory.

But Israel argued the tech would be used by Hamas.

Now an agreement has been reached that Starlink can only be used in Israel and Gaza with approval of the Israeli government. Israel’s Communication Minister Shlomo Karhi said this understanding was “vital”.

Mr Musk’s visit comes after Apple, Disney, IBM and Comcast paused adverts on X in the wake of an investigation by a US group, Media Matters for America, which flagged ads appearing next to pro-Nazi posts.

Advertising is a critical source of income for X, which has fiercely challenged the report, questioning its research methods. It has launched what Elon Musk billed as a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against the organisation.

In response, Media Matters called Mr Musk a bully.

Mr Musk has also been criticised for promoting an antisemitic trope when he replied to a post on X that shared a conspiracy theory which falsely accused Jewish communities of pushing hatred against white people, calling it “actual truth”.

It appeared to be an endorsement of a racist and antisemitic conspiracy theory known as “white genocide,” which argues that Jewish people systematically plot to encourage immigration of “non-white” people to Western countries in order to “eliminate” the white race.

It prompted a significant backlash, with the White House among those denouncing Mr Musk’s endorsement of the post.

Mr Musk has denied his post was antisemitic and has said his comments referred not to all Jewish people but to groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who have been critical of the platform, and other unspecified groups.

SOURCE: BBC NEWS