Netanyahu says Musk ‘committed’ to speaking out against antisemitism

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes the conversation with Elon Musk to Iran, saying, “It’s a bad actor that chants, ‘Death to Israel,’ ‘Death to America.’ You don’t want them to have the ability to reach Fremont or Dallas.”

Musk recalls a very polite letter he received from Iranian officials, joking he was surprised it did not have “Death to America and Israel” written on it, leading Netanyahu to exhort him not to be “calmed” by the letter’s tone.

“These regimes are based on the ability to control the minds of their people,” says Netanyahu, adding that AI could help citizens get around regime restrictions.

Unprompted, Netanyahu praises what he says is Musk’s outspokenness about antisemitism, saying “I know you are committed to that” and that “you’ve spoken about it, you’ve tweeted about it.” He adds that AI could help fight hatred of Jews.

The prime minister says he hopes Musk will be able to help if not stop antisemitism on social media, then at least “roll it back… I hope you succeed… It’s not an easy task.”

“I am against attacking any group,” responds Musk. He says he’s in favor of that which advances civilization, and enables us to understand the nature of the universe. “We can’t do that if there’s a lot of infighting, hatred… Obviously, I’m against antisemitism, I’m against anything that promotes hate and conflict.”

“Everyone should have this view,” he continues. “All it takes is long-term thinking.”

However, Musk then adds that “free speech does at times mean that someone you don’t like is saying something you don’t like. if you don’t have that, it’s not free speech. That doesn’t mean some sort of negativity should be pushed on people.” Talking about free speech on his X platform, he says that if the platform is too “unpleasant,” people will not use it. “We want to maximize unregretted user time,” he explains, saying he wants users to learn and laugh while they use it.

Netanyahu says he does not care where antisemitism comes from, hard right or hard left, but it must be condemned: It’s “collective hatred of a people”; it’s saying “they have to be banished, they don’t have a right to exist, they don’t have a right to a state of their own.” He adds that “condemnation is separate from the question of access.”

He points to the need to prevent bots from amplifying hatred, which Musk agrees with heartily.

Musk says he is looking at implementing a small monthly payment to combat the use of bots. He says he will come out with a lower tier pricing than the current premium plan, claiming it is the only way to combat bots.

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