Thursday, September 21, 2023
This month, Elon Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League, alleging that its denunciation of X"the A.D.L. had accused the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter of amplifying antisemitism"has cost Musk's company a fortune in advertising revenue. The Anti-Defamation League, in turn, asserted that Musk's threat was "dangerous and deeply irresponsible." This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to California to meet with Musk to discuss artificial intelligence, but their other much-anticipated topic was antisemitism. Netanyahu asked Musk to "stop antisemitism as best you can." Musk, alluding to SpaceX and his hope for a mission to Mars, responded that he favors anything that "ultimately leads us to become a spacefaring civilization," and, since hate hinders that mission, "obviously, I'm against antisemitism."
This all unfolded amid the release of Walter Isaacson's new biography of Musk. Musk's family history has a bearing on the dispute, but, in the book, as I pointed out in a review, Isaacson only glancingly discusses Musk's grandfather J. N. Haldeman, whom he presents as a risk-taking adventurer and whose politics he dismisses as "quirky." In fact, Haldeman was a pro-apartheid, antisemitic conspiracy theorist who blamed much of what bothered him about the world on Jewish financiers.
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