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HomeTechnologyAI, X, Anti-Semitism: Here’s what Israel PM Netanyahu and Elon Musk spoke...

AI, X, Anti-Semitism: Here’s what Israel PM Netanyahu and Elon Musk spoke about at their meeting

Elon Musk and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in California, where the Tesla CEO gave him a tour of the factory. The two also spoke about X, artificial intelligence and anti-Semitism on X

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kicked off his US trip with a stop in California to chat with billionaire Elon Musk, the brains behind the social media platform X. They delved into topics like antisemitism on X and Israel’s judicial overhaul, all while addressing artificial intelligence in a live stream event that didn’t draw a big crowd on Monday.

This high-profile visit coincided with accusations that Musk hasn’t been doing enough to combat antisemitic messages on X, while Netanyahu faced opposition in both domestic and international politics. Outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, where they met, protesters had gathered, highlighting the controversy.

The Tesla CEO also gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a tour of the Tesla factory in Fremont, California on Monday during his visit to the US.

Netanyahu and his wife received from Musk an overview of the company’s developments and the various models and observed the production and assembly process of the advanced electric cars.

After that, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife drove together with Musk in the innovative “Cybertruck” car, which has not yet been released to the market.

The official agenda revolved around artificial intelligence, and both Netanyahu and the Tesla CEO generally agreed on the need to balance its benefits with societal risks. They discussed the importance of like-minded nations agreeing on ethical guidelines to foster technology while keeping it in check. But they also acknowledged the necessity of dealing with rogue actors globally.

Their conversation soon veered into the territory of free speech and antisemitism, with Netanyahu encouraging Musk to find a balance within the First Amendment to combat antisemitism and hatred on his social media platform.

Musk pointed out that with 100 million to 200 million daily posts on X, some of them are bound to be offensive. He emphasized that X’s policy is not to promote or amplify hate speech. Under Musk’s leadership, the former Twitter tweaked its rules so that objectionable posts aren’t usually taken down but have reduced visibility, requiring users to actively seek them out. Musk termed this approach as “freedom of speech, not freedom of reach.”

Musk has faced allegations of tolerating antisemitic content on X, particularly from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a prominent Jewish civil rights organization. He’s been accused of “amplifying” the messages of neo-Nazis and white supremacists through his engagement with them on X. Musk countered these claims by suggesting that the ADL was trying to harm X’s reputation by falsely labelling him as anti-Semitic. He also hinted that the ADL was responsible for a significant drop in X’s revenue. It’s worth noting that the ADL, along with other groups, had urged companies to pause their advertising on Twitter when Musk acquired the platform. However, analysts tracking Twitter have suggested that Musk’s drastic changes to the platform, including rebranding it as X, contributed to a decline in advertiser interest.

Recently, Musk also posted comments about George Soros’ organization, suggesting that it aimed to undermine Western civilization. Soros, a well-known philanthropist, has donated billions to liberal and anti-authoritarian causes worldwide and has been the target of anti-Semitic attacks and conspiracy theories for years.

Netanyahu’s visit centred significantly around Musk and included a demonstration of self-driving technology. Typical Silicon Valley itineraries for visiting political leaders usually include meetings with major tech companies like Apple, Google, or Meta.

After California, Netanyahu was set to travel to New York, where he would address the United Nations General Assembly and meet with world leaders, including President Joe Biden. These meetings would involve German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis had been participating in protests against Netanyahu’s plan to reform Israel’s judicial system for nine months. These protests had gained international attention, with Israeli expatriates demonstrating during visits by Netanyahu and other government officials.

Outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, a demonstration organized by UnXeptable, a group founded by Israeli expatriates supporting democracy in Israel, also took place. The organizers aimed to show solidarity with protesters in Israel and voice their opposition to Netanyahu’s policies, which they felt were divisive.

In response to the protests and the backlash he faced for hosting Netanyahu, Musk asked the Prime Minister to discuss his judicial overhaul plans during their meeting.

Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul proposal aimed to reduce the power of unelected judges, whom he and his supporters deemed too liberal and interventionist. Critics argued that this plan represented a power grab that would erode checks and balances, potentially leading to autocratic rule. Notably, figures in Israel’s influential high-tech community had been actively involved in the protests, asserting that weakening the judiciary would harm the country’s business environment and deter foreign investment. This was evidenced by the decline in the value of Israel’s currency, the shekel, which signalled decreasing foreign investment.

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