Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk Wikimedia Commons

Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in Poland on Monday and declared himself "aspirationally Jewish". The X CEO made the comments during a discussion with commentator Ben Shapiro at the annual conference of the European Jewish Association in Krakow after the visit to the site.

"I have twice as many Jewish friends as non-Jewish friends," Musk told Shapiro. "I'm like Jewish by association. I'm aspirationally Jewish. So I was like, 'What are people talking about with this antisemitism?' Because I never hear it at dinner conversations. It's like an absurdity — at least in my friend circles".

His visit to Poland comes just a week before International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. It is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in German-occupied Poland, where around 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered by the Nazis between 1940 and 1945.

Musk Under Fire:

It also needs to be noted that the visit comes months after X began receiving intense criticism for how it was tackling antisemitic content on the platform. The situation for Musk worsened after he endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory on X (formerly called Twitter).

He received intense criticism from all quarters in November last year for calling a post "the actual truth" that said Jewish communities advocated a "dialectical hatred against whites". It began after an X user posted a video wherein a father could be seen lashing out at his son for putting out posts against Jewish communities, per BBC.

"To the cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and posting 'Hitler was right'," the caption with the video reads, "You got something you want to say? Why don't you say it to our faces..."

Another user, @breakingbaht, responded to the post by saying: "Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them."

"You want truth said to your face, there it is," the user added. Musk was quick to support @breakingbaht's argument.

In a reply to his tweet, Musk wrote: "You have said the actual truth." Musk's support of the tweet did not go down well with X users. Even the White House condemned his comments.

This theory was one of the hateful ideas promoted by the gunman who killed eleven people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 in one of the deadliest antisemitic attacks in US history.

Brands like Apple, Disney, and IBM paused ads on X soon after Musk made the comments backing the tweet. The company lost significant revenue. He later had to issue an apology for the same. "I'm sorry for that tweet or post," Musk said. "It was foolish of me". He described it as "one of the most foolish" things he had done on the platform.

Earlier this year, an analysis conducted by tech firm CASM Technology and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue revealed that antisemitic tweets have more than doubled since Elon Musk took over Twitter last year.

The researchers analysed over a million tweets with the help of various tech tools for "plausibly antisemitic" tweets between June 2022 and February 2023. The findings, which have not been peer-reviewed, revealed that there was a 105 per cent increase in the number of such tweets from October 27 to February 9, 2023.

"In all, a total of 325,739 tweets from 146,516 accounts were labelled as 'plausibly antisemitic' over the course of our study, stretching from June 1, 2022, to Feb. 9, 2023", per the report.

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met Musk in California last year and urged him to "roll back" antisemitism on the platform. The Israel-Hamas war has also led to a significant increase in hate speech and anti-Semitic incidents.