Netanyahu asks Elon Musk to sentence antisemitism on X; Musk deflects

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday publicly pressed tech billionaire Elon Musk to sentence antisemitism and discover a method to fight it on his social media platform X because the pair met at a Tesla manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif.

“I hope you will discover throughout the confines of the First Modification the power to cease not solely antisemitism, or roll it again as finest you’ll be able to, however any collective hatred of the those who antisemitism represents,” Netanyahu urged Musk within the assembly, which was live-streamed on the social media platform previously often called Twitter. He added, “I encourage you to search out the steadiness. It’s a tricky one.”

Whereas the assembly was largely cordial, Musk repeatedly declined Netanyahu’s name to forcefully denounce anti-Jewish hatred, which analysis reveals has spiked on the platform since Musk purchased it almost a 12 months in the past. Musk has restored accounts beforehand banned for hate speech and has repeatedly criticized a distinguished Jewish human rights group, stoking a latest wave of antisemitic assaults.

Musk instructed Netanyahu that, whereas he’s personally towards antisemitism, “free speech does at instances imply that somebody you don’t like is saying one thing you don’t like. In the event you don’t have that, then it’s not free speech.” He didn’t tackle his personal function in selling it.

The assembly got here as every chief seems to be to the opposite to assist fend off escalating criticism. The pair had mentioned their assembly was supposed to debate synthetic intelligence, however the dialog shortly veered to antisemitism and likewise touched on Iran in addition to protests in each Israel and america towards Netanyahu’s authorities.

Protesters who adopted Netanyahu’s motorcade from the San Jose airport to the manufacturing facility 17 miles north deliberate to proceed protesting in San Francisco’s Union Sq.. Sunday evening, Netanyahu critics projected “Welcome to Alcatraz Bibi” on the wall of the jail that’s certainly one of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks.

For Netanyahu, the assembly with one of many world’s most distinguished tech entrepreneurs comes amid outcry that his controversial push to overtake Israel’s judiciary dangers scaring off worldwide buyers and the tech group that has given Israel its fame as a “start-up nation.” In remarks made in Israel earlier than his departure for California, Netanyahu referred to as Musk “the present chief of essentially the most dramatic improvement within the new age and maybe generally,” apparently referring to AI, and mentioned he’ll “work towards encouraging him to spend money on Israel within the coming years.”

For Musk, a private go to from Netanyahu supplied an opportunity to counter allegations of antisemitism after a collection of tweets during which he blamed the Anti-Defamation League for making an attempt to destroy X and threatened a lawsuit towards the nonprofit. Analysis has discovered that antisemitic speech has risen dramatically on the platform since Musk acquired it final fall, and ADL leaders have mentioned Musk’s latest criticism of the group has additional stoked hate on-line and off.

However on Monday, Musk twice handed up Netanyahu’s requests for a forceful, particular condemnation of antisemitism, pivoting as a substitute to the significance of free speech and combating bots on X.

“Typically, I imply, I’m type of towards attacking any group,” Musk mentioned. “You understand, it doesn’t matter who it’s.”

He went on, “I’m in favor of that which furthers civilization and which finally leads us to change into a spacefaring civilization, the place we perceive the character of the universe. So we are able to’t try this if there’s numerous infighting and, you recognize, hatred and negativity. So, you recognize, clearly I’m towards antisemitism. I’m towards anti, actually, something that promotes hate and battle.”

When Musk shifted to the significance of permitting free speech, Netanyahu politely pushed again.

“It doesn’t cease you from popping out, as you have got, as I do in each attainable kind, and condemn antisemitism,” Netanyahu mentioned. “The condemnation is sort of separate from the query of entry.”

Musk spoke as a substitute about X’s newly introduced plan to supply a decrease pricing tier for its paid subscription service, which he described as “the one manner I can consider to fight huge armies of bots,” together with those who amplify hateful content material.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, mentioned in a press release, “We respect PM Netanyahu for elevating issues in regards to the proliferation of antisemitism on X/Twitter throughout his dialog with Elon Musk. We hope that Mr. Musk takes PM Netanyahu’s issues critically in order that X/Twitter can change into a safer and extra welcome place for all.”

It isn’t the primary time Musk and Netanyahu have spoken amid controversy over Musk’s dalliances with antisemitic tropes. This summer season, Netanyahu smoothed issues over in a dialog with Musk after the X proprietor in contrast the Jewish financier George Soros, a frequent goal of antisemitic conspiracy theories, to the Jewish X-Males villain Magneto. Netanyahu’s authorities minister tasked with combating antisemitism made a of level of claiming that Musk’s feedback weren’t antisemitic, regardless of widespread outcry in Israel. The 2 spoke about AI on the time, based on studies.

Netanyahu’s traveled to america for the annual assembly of the U.N. Common Meeting, the place he’s anticipated to talk on Thursday. The go to to California was a late addition to Netanyahu’s itinerary.

Early in Monday’s assembly, the 2 discovered frequent floor of their concern over the potential for synthetic “superintelligence,” which Netanyahu warned might result in “the destruction of democracy” and Musk mused might finish with robots controlling humanity.

Following the exchanges over antisemitism, Musk introduced up the protests towards Netanyahu’s authorities and famous the presence of protesters outdoors.

“I in all probability received essentially the most quantity of pushback at Tesla about this interview as something I’ve ever performed,” Musk mentioned, including, “I believe it’s primarily the judicial reform query.”

Netanyahu defended his dedication to democracy, saying “Israel will at all times be a democratic nation” and arguing that its judiciary had grown too highly effective. His authorities’s transfer to decrease the affect of Israel’s Supreme Court docket has sparked months of nationwide demonstrations, arguably the best home disaster within the nation’s 75-year historical past.

Musk recommended they return to the subject of AI. Following their one-on-one interview, the pair held an “AI security roundtable” that included OpenAI president and co-founder Greg Brockman and MIT physicist Max Tegmark, who has warned of the existential dangers he believes AI poses.


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