White House blasts Elon Musk for promoting ‘Antisemitic and racist hate’

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., during a fireside discussion on artificial intelligence risks with Rishi Sunak, UK prime minister, not pictured, in London, UK, on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. 
Tolga Akmen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The White House on Friday lashed out at Elon Musk for promoting “Antisemitic and racist hate” after the Tesla CEO and X Corp. owner said he agreed with a social media post accusing “Jewish communities” of pushing “hatred against whites.”

Musk, responding on X, wrote that that post “said the actual truth.”

White House spokesman Andrew Bates said it was “unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of Antisemitism in American history at any time.”

Bates appeared to be referring to the mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, in which 11 people were shot to death by a gunman who expressed a belief in the antisemitic “white genocide” conspiracy theory.

“We condemn this abhorrent promotion of Antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans,” Bates said.

The White House’s statement noted the proximity of Musk’s post to the deadly attacks in Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7, which it described as “the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

“We all have a responsibility to bring people together against hate, and an obligation to speak out against anyone who attacks the dignity of their fellow Americans and compromises the safety of our communities,” Bates said.

Spokespeople for Tesla and X did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment on the White House’s statement.

Musk on Wednesday responded to a post claiming Jewish communities “have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.”

Musk, who has the most popular account on X, replied: “You have said the actual truth.”

The original post, from an account with fewer than 5,000 followers, has been viewed more than 1.1 million times since being amplified by Musk, who is followed by more than 163 million accounts.

Musk in the same X thread criticized the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish nonprofit advocacy group, and others that he claims are pushing “de facto anti-white racism or anti-Asian racism or racism of any kind.”

In another post, he claimed that the ADL “unjustly attacks the majority of the West” because they cannot criticize “minority groups who are their primary threat.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has responded on X to Musk’s post, warning that, “At a time when antisemitism is exploding in America and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use one’s influence to validate and promote antisemitic theories.”

Musk, the world’s richest man, has previously threatened to sue the ADL for defamation, alleging the group “has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic.”

Wednesday’s exchange was not the first time Musk has been accused of boosting antisemitic conspiracies.

In a 2018 tweet on the platform formerly known as Twitter, he wrote, “Who do you think *owns* the press? Hello.”  After that tweet spurred accusations of antisemitism, Musk blamed a Twitter “glitch” for hiding another post in the thread and “removing context” that clarified he was referring only to “powerful people.”

In 2022, he tweeted a meme comparing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler, but deleted it after a backlash.

When he acquired Twitter, he let previously banned users back on the platform, including neo-Nazi website publisher Andrew Anglin.

Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last year. Engagement on the site has fallen in that time, some studies have shown, although Musk disputes that traffic is down. Musk has, however, admitted that U.S. ad revenue is down significantly.

With Musk’s latest controversy over antisemitism still roiling, some companies are distancing themselves from him and his platform. IBM announced this week that it has paused advertising on X after a report found that its ads were being placed next to antisemitic content.

Musk is also the founder of SpaceX, a NASA contractor. The spacecraft manufacturer on Saturday is set to attempt another launch of Starship, which is part of a NASA contract.

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