Elon Musk denies anti-Semitism, doubles down on George Soros attacks

Lerende defended Elon Musk’s remarks accusing Holocaust survivor and liberal donor George Soros of trying to weaken human civilization on Tuesday night, hours after a Twitter account affiliated with the Israeli government condemned his rhetoric as anti-Semitic.

“I’m going to say what I want to say, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it,” the Tesla and SpaceX founder said in an interview on CNBC Tuesday night.

The night before, Musk had used the social media platform he owns, Twitter, to compare Soros to a Marvel supervillain who also survived the Holocaust, reinforcing long-standing conspiracy theories that the 92-year-old Hungarian-American Jew is spending his billions of dollars. to undermine society.

“I said he reminds me of Magneto. You know, calm people down, Musk told CNBC interviewer David Faber, and laughed out loud.

“You said he wants to erode the very fabric of civilization and Soros hates humanity,” Faber responded, quoting Musk’s follow-up tweets.

“Yes,” Musk said. “I think it’s true. That is my opinion.”

Jewish leaders had spent much of the day dealing with the fallout from Musk’s opinions.

In the afternoon, the Israeli Foreign Ministry noted that anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and the hashtag “The Jews” were trending on the platform “after a tweet reeking of anti-Semitism by none other than the owner and CEO of the social network, Elon Musk.”

Ted Deutch, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, called Musk’s remarks “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion for the Internet Age” – refer to an infamous forged document that accuses Jews of conspiring to weaken global civilization.

“It will embolden extremists who are already creating anti-Jewish conspiracies and have sought to attack Soros and Jewish communities as a result,” tweeted Anti-Defamation League Executive Director Jonathan Greenblatt. Musk later responded that the organization should drop “Anti” from its name.

Sitting with Musk that evening at a Tesla factory in Austin, Faber pressed him to explain his fiery rhetoric.

“Why share it when people who buy Teslas might not agree with you, advertisers on Twitter might not agree with you? Why not just say, ‘Hey, I believe this.’ You can tell me, we can talk about it over there, you can tell your friends – but why share it widely?”

“I mean, uh, freedom of speech. I’m allowed to say what I want,” Musk replied, falling back on an argument he’s used frequently since he bought Twitter last year and set about lifting the platform’s restrictions on hate speech. (Musk did not mention that a few days earlier Twitter agreed to censor some users critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the eve of an election in that country.)

The CNBC host pressed Musk one more time. “I’m trying to understand why you do that, because it puts you in the middle of a partisan divide in the country,” Faber said. “It makes you a lightning rod for critics. Do you like it? You know people today say he is an antisemite. I don’t think you are.”

“No, definitely, I’m like a prosemite about something,” Musk said, then changed the subject. “We don’t want to turn this into a George Soros interview.”

Shira Rubin contributed to this report, which has been updated.

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