Musk tours Gaza border kibbutz with PM, says ‘no choice’ but for Israel to destroy Hamas

Billionaire shown evidence of Oct. 7 atrocities, including screening of 43-minute Hamas massacre footage; Herzog urges tech mogul to clamp down on antisemitic hate speech on X

US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Tech mogul Elon Musk arrived in Israel on Monday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Presiden Isaac Herzog, other officials, and victims of the October 7 Hamas atrocities, as well as the families of hostages.

The billionaire arrived less than two weeks after he endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory on his X platform, which led to major companies pulling advertisements from the site.

Musk started his visit by touring a kibbutz in southern Israel that was among the worst affected by Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, together with Netanyahu.

During the tour of Kfar Aza, Musk was shown the horrors of the Hamas attack, which saw terrorists storm the community and 20 or so others, butchering and burning entire families and kidnapping scores of civilians to Gaza.

Musk said the experience was “jarring” and that he was struck by what appeared to be “joy” on the part of the terrorists in the video. Following the tour, Netanyahu and Musk did a live broadcast on the billionaire’s social media site X, formerly Twitter.

“The rebuttal is often made that well, you know, Israel has killed civilians also in Gaza,” Musk said. “But there’s an important difference here, which is that Israel tries to avoid killing civilians, doing everything it can to avoid killing civilians. And, you know, there’s no sort of joy expressed.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and X CEO Elon Musk watch footage from Hamas atrocities on October 7, during a meeting on November 27, 2023. (Courtesy)

Musk also said that “there’s no choice” but for Israel to destroy Hamas, but that Israel then needs to “help those that remain,” likening a future postwar scenario to the post-World War II US occupation of Germany and Japan.

“If you want security, peace and a better life for Gazans, then you need to destroy Hamas. You first have to get rid of the poisonous regime, as was done in Germany and Japan,” said Netanyahu, to which Musk responded: “There’s no choice.”

Added Musk: “You need to pair firmness and taking out the terrorists and those intent on murder, and at the same time help those that remain, which is what happened in Germany and Japan.”

“Usually the victor punishes the loser,” he continued, pointing to the rehabilitation of Germany and Japan by the allies after World War II as examples of how reconstruction efforts after a major war and a clear-cut victory helped secure peace for a long period of time.

Musk heard briefings from a local council leader and from a representative of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit about the massacres in the kibbutz, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.

He was taken to the home of the community’s security chief Ofir Libstein, who was killed in a gunfight with the terrorists.

Musk also visited the home of the Idan family and heard the story of Israeli-American toddler Avigail Idan, 4, who was kidnapped to Gaza and was released yesterday as part of a hostage deal. Both her parents were killed, while her two siblings survived by hiding for 14 hours until help arrived.

Musk’s itinerary also included a screening of the harrowing 43-minute montage of October 7 atrocities, a filmed conversation with Netanyahu, and meetings with war cabinet minister Benny Gantz and President Herzog.

During his meeting with Musk at the President’s Residence, Herzog informed the tech mogul that the social media site he runs is full of antisemitism and that he has “a huge role” in fighting the problem, and pointed to the scenes from Kfar Aza as proof of how hatred can lead to murder.

“Unfortunately, we are inundated by antisemitism, which is Jew hate, and Jew hate impacts the entire notion of behavior of human beings in so many places around the world. And you have a huge role to play, and I think we need to fight it together, because under the platforms you lead, unfortunately, there is a harboring of a lot of old hate which is Jew hate, which is antisemitism,” Herzog told Musk.

“You’ve seen how evil can supersede everything, you’ve seen this morning what hate can bring about, you’ve seen how… thought turns into evil turns into hate and into bloodshed.”

Musk said in response that he has had an “emotionally difficult day” seeing the places where people were murdered and “watch[ing] the video where the murderers are rejoicing in the deaths.”

“These people have been fed propaganda since they were children. It’s remarkable what humans are capable of if they are fed falsehood since they are children. They can think that murdering innocent people is a good thing. That’s how much propaganda can affect people’s minds,” Musk added.

US billionaire Elon Musk meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and representatives of families of hostages held in Gaza during his visit to Israel, November 27, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Family members and representatives of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza also attended the meeting, in order to “speak about the horrors of the Hamas terror attack on October 7, and of the ongoing pain and uncertainty for those held captive,” Herzog’s office said.

Musk has come under fire in recent weeks for his platform’s failure to crack down on rampant disinformation and hate speech amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. He has also been accused by the White House of “abhorrent promotion” of antisemitism after endorsing a conspiracy theory seen as accusing Jews of trying to weaken white majorities.

Since he took over the company last year, Musk has been panned for what critics say is a proliferation of hate speech in general on the platform.

In September, Netanyahu urged Musk to combat antisemitism on X, calling on him to find “the ability to stop not only antisemitism, or rolling it back as best you can, but any collective hatred.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) speaks with Elon Musk during a live discussion on the social media platform X, at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, September 18, 2023. (X video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Musk, the world’s richest person, said 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 the nonprofit Media Matters on grounds it has driven away advertisers by portraying the site as rife with antisemitic content.

Musk has also threatened to file suit against the Anti-Defamation League over its claims that problematic and racist speech has soared on the site since he purchased the company for $44 billion.

Most Popular
read more: