America Abuzz with Talk About Israel: ”The Elon & Bibi Show“ and "60 Minutes"
I. The Elon and Bibi Show
On Monday shortly after noon, PM Benjamin Netanyahu sat aside X CEO Elon Musk, each uncomfortably avuncular.
The purpose of this chit chat in California – broadcast live on “X” - was to discuss the importance of AI and possibly working cooperatively to ensure that the “good guys” win and manage to restrain the very dangerous aspects of this dystopian capability.
Sure. Bibi would love to be The Man, in collaboration with Elon, to oversee that AI is, on balance, a positive force in the world. But that’s not really why he was really in that studio, with only 7,000 people tuning in.
Since assuming control over Twitter, now renamed “X”, critics have noticed a sharp uptick in online antisemitism on the platform. Elon Musk, who purchased Twitter at what is roundly agreed to have been a gross overpayment - $44-billion – says that such talk is bunk. He is neither an antisemite nor will he encourage such hatred. But, he says, he is a free speech absolutist. Exactly what he means by that is unclear.
Musk has openly and repeatedly accused the American NGO, the Anti-Defamation League, of leading an effort to encourage advertisers to withhold ad placement on the platform until such issues are addressed. The manner in which Musk has chosen to phrase this allegation – which is flatly denied by Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, has echoes of classic, historic antisemitic propaganda. To be clear, I am not suggesting that Musk is an antisemite. But I definitely take the position that his expressions of policy on this issue ought to be much more carefully scripted.
Since its founding in 1913 in the United States, the ADL has been regarded as the marquee organization with the mandate to combat antisemitism and racism, broadly, in a fearless and intelligent manner. Under the leadership of its current CEO and National Director, Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL has attracted some controversy, but navigating such issues in these very polarized times is not a walk in the park. Furthermore, it is notable that even Greenblatt’s strongest critics have stood behind him in this latest frisson with Musk and his army of X-amplified antisemites.
A few weeks ago, one of the new breakout stars on X (who has been aggressively promoted by Musk) hosted a “Space” – which is basically an open, live chat room with a moderator - in which the topic of discussion was a trending hashtag - #BantheADL. Initially posted by a known and notorious Jew hater, Musk personally gave the issue a huge lift by retweeting/reposting and later commenting - in support of the hashtag.
The brainchild of the hashtag openly reviles the ADL as an organization that controls media and public discourse and shuts down any talk that may be critical of Jews or Israel. (He also believes that Jews are an evil, sinister force that must be stopped.) His #BantheADL post on X earned him hero status after Musk reposted it. Elon is a smart man. He knew exactly what he was doing. And the antisemites were ecstatic over the Elon embrace and amplification of their hatred.
And they were blaming the Jews for everything: control of the media; Elon’s financial problems; the flight of big advertising dollars from the X platform, etc. One voice – virtually all participants were verified with a blue check but clearly bots using pseudonyms for cover – opined that ADL was just a “protection racket.” Nice. Could have been lifted straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The general thrust of the discussion in the X Space was that ADL, like so many things Jewish, is a dangerous force that must be exposed and shut down. But Elon Musk, they believe, will stand firm in defense of free speech and the highest values of democracy.
You lie down with dogs, Elon, and you attract fleas. And you now have a deadly infestation.
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