Israel's Netanyahu to meet Elon Musk. Sit-down comes as company faces antisemitism controversy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says he will meet billionaire businessman Elon Musk during a trip to the United States next week

Josef Federman
Thursday 14 September 2023 17:39 BST
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet billionaire businessman Elon Musk during a trip to the United States next week, the Israeli leader's office said Thursday.

Netanyahu's office declined to discuss the agenda for Monday's meeting. But it comes at a time that Musk is facing accusations of tolerating antisemitic messages on his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil-rights organization, has accused Musk of allowing antisemitism and hate speech to spread on X. Its director, Jonathan Greenblatt, said Musk had “amplified” the messages of neo-Nazis and white supremacists who want to ban the ADL by engaging with them recently on X.

In a Sept. 4 post, Musk claimed the ADL was “trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic.” In other posts, he said the ADL was responsible for a 60% drop in revenue at X and said his company would have “no choice” but to file a defamation lawsuit against the group. “Oh the irony!” he wrote. As of Thursday, he has not followed through this threat.

X, however, did file a lawsuit against another group that has studied the proliferation of hate speech on the platform.

In August, it sued the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, accusing it of violating X’s terms of service by improperly collecting a vast amount of data for its analysis. The lawsuit claims the group's research highlighting an increase in hate speech on the former Twitter since Musk took over cost the company millions of dollars of advertising revenue.

But analysts who track Twitter have argued that Musk's chaotic changes to the platform — including jettisoning its well-known brand name — have led to a decline in interest from advertisers.

Greenblatt says his group is “willing to work” with X and last week met with the company's chief executive, Linda Yaccarino. Both Musk and Yaccarino have recently posted messages saying they oppose antisemitism.

Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to San Francisco on Monday before heading to New York, where he is expected to address the U.N. General Assembly and meet with President Joe Biden.

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