Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, said in video remaks that Hamas militants ‘have been fed propaganda’ – Copyright POOL/AFP Leon Neal
Israel’s president told Elon Musk on Monday that the tech mogul has “a huge role to play” to combat anti-Semitism, which his social media platform is accused of spreading.
The meeting came after the world’s richest person visited a kibbutz community devastated in attacks by Hamas militants on October 7, and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence officials.
Musk has been criticised over what critics say is a proliferation of hate speech on X, formerly Twitter, since his takeover of the social media site in October 2022.
He has been accused by the White House of “abhorrent promotion” of anti-Semitism after endorsing a conspiracy theory seen as accusing Jews of trying to weaken white majorities.
Israel’s figurehead President Isaac Herzog told him: “Unfortunately, we are inundated by anti-Semitism, which is Jew hatred.
“You have a huge role to play,” he said. “And I think we need to fight it together because on the platforms which you lead, unfortunately, there’s a harbouring of a lot of… anti-Semitism.”
Musk did not mention anti-Semitism in his video remarks released by Herzog’s office, but said Hamas militants “have been fed propaganda since they were children”.
“It’s remarkable what humans are capable of if they’re fed falsehoods, from when they are children; they will think that the murder of innocent people is a good thing.”
On October 7 Hamas militants broke through Gaza’s militarised border into southern Israel to kill around 1,200 people and seize about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials, in the worst-ever attack since the nation’s founding.
Vowing to destroy Hamas in response, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment of targets in Gaza, alongside a ground invasion, that the Hamas government says has killed almost 15,000.
A temporary truce has been in effect since Friday.
– Talk of satellites –
Earlier Monday, Netanyahu and Musk discussed “security aspects of artificial intelligence” with senior defence officials, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Musk and Netanyahu held a conversation on X following their tour of Kfar Aza, one of the communities attacked by Hamas.
“We have to demilitarise Gaza after the destruction of Hamas,” Netanyahu said, calling for a campaign to “deradicalise” the Palestinian territory.
“Then we also have to rebuild Gaza, and I hope to have our Arab friends help in that context.”
Netanyahu told Musk he hoped to resume United States-mediated normalisation talks with Saudi Arabia after Hamas’s defeat and “expand the circle of peace beyond anything imaginable”.
The war stalled progress towards a Saudi-Israel normalisation deal, and in early November Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler denounced the conduct of Israeli forces fighting Hamas in Gaza.
Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said his country had reached an understanding in principle on the use of Starlink satellites, operated by Musk’s company SpaceX, in Israel and the Gaza Strip “with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications”.
Starlink is a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that can provide internet to remote locations, or areas that have had normal communications infrastructure disabled.
In September, Netanyahu urged Musk “to stop not only anti-Semitism, or rolling it back as best you can, but any collective hatred” on X.
Musk said at the time that while his platform could not stop all hate speech before it was posted, he was “generally against attacking any group, no matter who it is”.
X Corp is currently suing nonprofit Media Matters on the grounds that it has driven away advertisers by portraying the site as rife with anti-Semitic content.
Musk has also threatened to file suit against the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, over its claims that problematic and racist speech has soared on the site since he completed his $44-billion takeover.