More than 100 Jewish activists have signed a letter calling on major advertisers to end their relationships with X, the platform formerly known as Twitter and owned by Elon Musk. They call it a “hotbed of antisemitism” that “poses one of the greatest threats to Jews in years.”
The signatories are also calling on Apple and Google to remove the platform from their app stores, which would make X inaccessible to the vast majority of mobile users.
The call, issued Tuesday, comes after weeks in which Musk interacted with white supremacists and made a series of posts attacking the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish civil rights organization that supported his removal of the guidelines criticized for hate speech on the website. The ADL also called on advertisers last year to stop spending on the platform, and Musk has threatened to sue the group for what he says is driving down X’s advertising revenue.
100 rabbis, Jewish leaders, academics, activists, & artists have come together to call out Elon Musk’s antisemitism.
Proud to have organized this and deeply grateful for the voices that joined, from Rabbi Yitz Greenberg to Ruth Messinger & so many more.https://t.co/wZstMNQfIM
— Elad Nehorai (@EladNehorai) September 26, 2023
“We have watched with horror as a new level of antisemitic discourse has spread like wildfire across one of America’s largest social networks,” read the letter, written by Elad Nehorai, a progressive Jewish activist. “All of this was enabled and encouraged by its owner, Elon Musk.”
Many of the more than 120 signatories are progressives, including cartoonist Eli Valley and Ruth Messinger, the former Manhattan borough president and one-time Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City who later headed the American Jewish World Service, a global aid organization.
Musk, friend of the Jews
A few days later, Musk took part in an online discussion regarding antisemitism.
In this approximately 90-minute live discussion on the Internet, the billionaire and entrepreneur repeatedly asserted that he was a friend of the Jews, although he was accused by some Jewish organizations, among other things, of allowing antisemitism to run wild on his social network platform .
“My entire life story is pro-Semitic,” insisted Musk. He added that he attended a Jewish kindergarten in South Africa and traveled to Israel with his father when he was 13. “I don’t know if I’m genetically Jewish,” he explained. “I am an aspiring Jewish person. Lets put it that way.”
Conservative political commentator and columnist Ben Shapiro and Ari Lamm – an Orthodox rabbi, scholar and podcaster – moderated the discussion with Musk.
This version removes the long pause at the beginning, weird transitions, pauses, etc.
This version is ~30% shorter and flows better.
— Farzad Mesbahi (@farzyness) September 29, 2023
The event was Musk’s idea, Shapiro said at the beginning. “One of the things no one can deny about Elon is that he is willing to talk publicly about just about anything,” Shapiro explained. “Tonight is no exception.”
Other speakers included former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Israel’s new special envoy to combat antisemitism, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman and founder the European Jewish Association, as well as the author and activist Rabbi Shmuely Boteach.
Lamm, who is co-founder of SoulShop and CEO of the Bnai Zion Foundation, had harsh words for the Anti-Defamation League, which has criticized Musk and tried to block advertising on the platform.
“We are the stewards of literally the most influential wisdom tradition in human history,” Lamm said, calling the Torah the foundation of Western civilization.
He accused Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s executive director and national director, of “not even pretending to be playing in the field of great Jewish ideas and texts.” Instead, American Jews should look to leading Orthodox rabbis like Hershel Schachter of Yeshiva University and Osher Weiss in Israel as representatives of their values.
“I feel at home calling you Elon because Elon is a very popular name here in Israel,” said Rivlin, who was calling from Israel.
Attorney Alan Dershowitz, who also spoke at the event, praised Musk for his experiment “to see if we can survive in the marketplace of ideas without censorship.”
“No idea should be censored,” said the Harvard Law School professor emeritus. “My suggestion to you is not to listen to critics.”
He warned Musk not to let the platform drift too far to the right. “X has to be perfectly symmetrical,” Dershowitz said. “Don’t destroy it by using the platform as a right-wing response to left-wing excesses.”
The divide between left and right, progressive and conservative is perhaps more acutely felt in the Jewish world than among other peoples, because Israel is at the center of this discussion.
For progressive Jews, especially in the Diaspora, Israel is a “stolen land,” while for conservatives it is a holy land.
However, as is typical of progressives, they seek to suppress opinions they disagree with. Boycotts and other measures are used to suppress conservative voices instead of engaging with them.
In addition, a large proportion of progressive Jews are not Jews according to Jewish law. Many only have a Jewish father, some “feel Jewish,” and others converted to Judaism with the help of a Reform rabbi, which is not recognized by traditional Judaism.
It is estimated that about half of American progressive Jews are not Jewish according to Halacha. However, they are progressive and they try to sell their ideology as Jewish by pretending to speak for Jews.
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