KRAKOW, Poland – Pushing back against accusations of anti-Semitism, Mr Elon Musk has in recent months visited Israel, hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Tesla factory in California and repeatedly insisted he bears no animus towards Jews.
On Jan 22, he took his penitence tour to a new level, declaring himself “aspirationally Jewish” after a visit to the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in southern Poland, where he lit a candle in memory of the millions of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Mr Musk, the owner of X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, stirred outrage – and an exodus of advertisers – in November when he endorsed an anti-Semitic post on X as “the actual truth”.
The post accused Jewish communities of pushing “hatred against whites” and supporting the immigration of “hordes of minorities”.
The White House denounced Mr Musk for “abhorrent promotion of anti-Semitic and racist hate”.
He quickly apologised for his intervention, saying “it might be literally the worst and dumbest post I’ve ever done”. He has been scrambling since to calm the outcry and halt the flight of advertisers.
But his atonement has come in fits and starts. After apologising for giving a thumbs-up to an anti-Semitic conspiracy about Jews conspiring to dilute the white population, he used an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times to tell unhappy advertisers to get lost in vulgar terms and accused them of trying to blackmail him.
He also threatened to take legal action against the Anti-Defamation League, a rights group that has complained about the rise in anti-Semitism on X.
He is now back to presenting his less pugnacious, more understanding side.
After a visit to Israel in late November, during which he toured a kibbutz where dozens of people were killed during the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct 7, Mr Musk on Jan 22 toured the site of what once was the Auschwitz concentration camp with his 3-year-old son. He was escorted by Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the chair and founder of the European Jewish Association.
Speaking later at a conference on anti-Semitism organised by the association in the nearby Polish city of Krakow, Mr Musk said he had been “somewhat naive” about the dangers posed by anti-Jewish sentiment because “in the circles I move in, I see no anti-Semitism”.
“Two-thirds of my friends are Jewish,” he said. “I’m Jewish by association. I’m aspirationally Jewish.”
He added that “it blew my mind” to see protesters at elite US colleges showing support for Hamas by chanting slogans against Israel and its right to exist. “At elite campuses you are supposed to be enlightened, not sponsoring hate,” he said.
At the same time, however, he repeated his long-standing position – as a self-declared “free speech absolutist” – that censorship is not a good way to counter hate speech, noting that one of the first things Hitler did after coming to power in Germany in 1933 was to “shut down the press” and silence critical voices.
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