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Elon Musk defends ‘antisemitic' tweets on George Soros after Israeli criticism

Israel's Foreign Ministry accused the Twitter owner of encouraging antisemitic posts on the social media platform.
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter owner and Tesla chief Elon Musk defended his language and controversial tweets against accusations of antisemitism, after comments he made about George Soros. 

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Musk said he will continue to post controversial tweets. “I’ll say what I want to say and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it,” he said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry accused Musk of stoking antisemitic rhetoric on his social media platform  on Tuesday after his posted remarks critical of Hungarian Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

Earlier that day, Musk tweeted that Soros “reminds me of Magneto,” a comic book villain featuring in Marvel’s X-Men series, who, like Soros, survived the Holocaust. Some 40 million people viewed Musk's post. Responding to one reaction claiming that Soros is acting out of good intentions, Musk wrote, “You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.” 



The director of the Digital Diplomacy Bureau at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, David Saranga, responded with a long post accusing Musk of publishing "antisemitic-toned" posts and encouraging antisemitism on social media.  

The search terms “The Jews” were trending on Twitter after Musk's comments and many results contain antisemitic conspiracies and hate speech. Saranga criticized Twitter, saying it "does nothing to address this problem” alongside a screenshot of current trends, featuring 27,900 tweets with the hashtag “The Jews.”

Saranga cited German theologian and Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, who was imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II over his opposition to the Nazi regime, a quotation written on the wall of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

“‘First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.' Niemöller’s words serve as an indictment of passivity and indifference during the Holocaust,” wrote Saranga.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry tweeted Tuesday, “The phrase ‘The Jews’ spiked today on the list of topics trending on Twitter following a tweet with antisemitic overtones by none other than the owner and CEO of the social network, Elon Musk.” It added that Musk’s tweet “immediately led to antisemitic conspiracy theories on Twitter.” 

Musk’s tweet was also criticized by Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who tweeted that the remark “will embolden extremists who already contrive anti-Jewish conspiracies and have tried to attack Soros and Jewish communities as a result.” In response, Musk wrote that "ADL should just drop the 'A.'"

The Open Society Foundation, financed by Soros, has for years supported liberal groups in Europe and elsewhere. In Israel, the foundation has donated money to human rights groups, including anti-occupation ones such as Breaking the Silence and Adalah. Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has slammed Soros on several occasions for these donations, expressing support for the anti-Soros campaign carried out by Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban. In 2017, he posted a cartoon on Facebook suggesting that Soros controls the world, pandering to a baseless anti-semitic conspiracy theory that Jews control the world.

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