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Elon Musk to meet Israeli president, Gaza hostage families on Monday

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Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, accused by civil rights groups of amplifying anti-Jewish hatred on his X social media platform, will meet Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday along with Israelis whose relatives have been held by Hamas in Gaza.

Herzog’s office announced the meeting on Sunday night, saying, “In their meeting, the president will emphasize the need to act to combat rising antisemitism online.”

Musk, a billionaire who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, did not respond to requests for comment through spokespeople for Tesla and X, formerly known as Twitter.

Musk’s visit coincides with a four-day truce in an Israeli war with Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza during which 40 of the 240 hostages Israel says have been held by Hamas have returned to Israel.

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Israel’s Channel 12 said Musk would also meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. There was no immediate comment from his office.

Netanyahu met Musk in California on Sept. 18 and urged him to strike a balance between protecting free expression and fighting hate speech after weeks of controversy over antisemitic content on X.

Musk responded by saying he was against antisemitism and against anything that “promotes hate and conflict,” repeating his previous statements that X would not promote hate speech.

During that visit, before the war, about 200 people protested efforts by Netanyahu’s right-wing government to curb the powers of Israeli courts. They gathered outside Tesla’s California factory, where the meeting took place.

Then on Nov. 15, Musk agreed with a post on X that falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people, saying the user who referenced the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory was speaking “the actual truth.”

The White House condemned what it called an “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate” that “runs against our core values as Americans.”

Major U.S. companies including Walt Disney, Warner Bros Discovery and NBCUniversal and CNBC parent Comcast paused their advertisements on his social media site.

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The “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory holds that Jewish people and leftists are engineering the ethnic and cultural replacement of white populations with non-white immigrants that will lead to a “white genocide.”

Antisemitism and Islamophobia have risen in the United States and worldwide, including during the now seven-week-old war between Israel and Hamas.

Following the outbreak of war, antisemitic incidents in the United States rose by nearly 400% from the year-earlier period, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that fights antisemitism.

Musk has said X should be a platform for people to post diverse viewpoints, but the company will limit the distribution of certain posts that may violate its policies, calling the approach “freedom of speech, not reach.”

Musk is developing an artificial intelligence startup xAI, and Israel is considered a world leader in the field, thanks to burgeoning computing and robotics industries.

Israel’s almost $500 billion economy, previously on track for growth to top 3% this year with low unemployment, is now estimated at around 2% with slow growth expected in 2024 as long as the war continues.

After an initial 6% tumble at the outset of the war, the shekel has gained 8% against the dollar and is now at pre-war levels. Helped mainly by local investors, stock prices have also recovered from a steep drop last month.

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Source: CNBC

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