Elon Musk has flirted with white nationalism, amplified claims that South Africa is an “anti-White apartheid state” and endorsed suggestions that white people are under siege from minorities and immigrants.
But this week’s social media post – accusing Jews of pushing hatred against whites, the dangerous claim behind the deadly 2018 rampage at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue that killed 11 people – has set off an international firestorm and prompted a public rebuke from the White House.
“It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.
Advertisers including Apple, IBM, Disney and Lions Gate Entertainment have pulled ads from Musk’s social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
X did not respond to a request for comment.
Jewish organizations have slammed Musk for the reported increase in antisemitic posts on X since he bought the platform a year ago.
X CEO Linda Yaccarino said Thursday that the company has been “extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination.”
“There’s no place for it anywhere in the world – it’s ugly and wrong,” she said. “Full stop.”
In September, Musk said he opposed antisemitism in a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Musk is the world’s richest person, running a massive business empire that includes X, Tesla and four other companies and exerting outsized influence in geopolitical matters around the globe.
Some Tesla investors warned that Musk’s statements risk harming the Tesla brand.
Jerry Braakman, president and chief investment officer of First American Trust, which owned 16,000 shares of Tesla on Sept. 30, called on the Tesla board to put Musk on leave for 30 to 60 days.
“Sometimes you cross the line, and I think a comment like this is crossing the line. It’s not acceptable in the business world, and I don’t think there is an excuse for a CEO to promote antisemitism, discrimination, hate speech, any of those,” Braakman told USA TODAY. “At the end of the day, he’s a very rich, influential, successful individual who has created some great companies but does not mean that you have no social responsibility?”
Kevin Paffrath, a financial advisor, Tesla investor, and the YouTuber behind “Meet Kevin,” told Yahoo Finance that Musk “needs a babysitter and he actually needs to listen to that babysitter.”
Musk on Wednesday was responding to an X user who promoted a conspiracy theory that Jewish people are bringing nonwhite immigrants to the U.S. to replace the white population.
“You have said the actual truth,” Musk responded.
Accounts that promote antisemitic views seized on Musk’s tweet, saying it showed that he agrees with them on the “JQ,” short for the Jewish question, a term used by antisemites.
In subsequent posts, Musk said the Anti-Defamation League, “unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel.”
Musk has been fighting with the ADL over its campaign to remove antisemitism from social media – a campaign that Musk claims has cost his company ad sales.
“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,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said on X.