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Elon Musk visits Auschwitz as X under fire for antisemitic content PiPa News

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Elon Musk visits Auschwitz as X under fire for antisemitic content

Elon Musk, who has been accused of allowing antisemitic messages on his social media platform, X, visited the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Monday, saying afterwards that the tragedy of the Holocaust “hits you in the heart more when you will see it in person.”

Musk toured the infamous extermination camp built by Nazi Germany during World War II before attending a conference on antisemitism organized by the European Jewish Association in the nearby Polish city of Krakow.

He admitted to being “naive” about the extent of antisemitism until now, saying that was because most of his friends were Jewish and he had little contact with it in his own life.

“In the circles I operate in, I see almost no antisemitism,” Musk said at the conference in a discussion with conservative podcaster Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire. “And, you know, there’s this old joke of ‘I have like this one Jewish friend.’ No, like two-thirds of my friends are Jewish. I have twice as many Jewish friends as non-Jewish friends.

He defended his X platform as a place where freedom of speech flourished, saying that a free exchange of ideas was something that would ultimately help correct hatred, as those Nazi closed freedom of press and information.

“The overall goal for the X platform is to be the best source of truth in the world,” he said. The “relentless search for truth is the goal of X and allowing people to say what they want to say, even if it’s controversial, as long as it doesn’t violate the law.”

The billionaire has faced accusations from the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights organization, and others of allowing antisemitic messages on the platform, formerly known as Twitter, since buying it in 2022.

He sparked an outcry in November, including from the White House, when he responded on X to a user who accused Jews of hating whites and claimed to be indifferent to antisemitism by post, “You speak the real truth.” He later apologized for the comment, calling it the “stupidest” post he’s ever made.

Several major brands, including Disney and IBM, stopped advertising on the platform last year after the liberal advocacy group Media Matters said their ads appeared alongside pro-Nazi content and white nationalists. post. X has since sued Media Matters, saying the Washington-based nonprofit created the report to “drive advertisers off the platform and destroy X Corp.”

Musk visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau site with his 3-year-old son and others, including Shapiro and the founder and head of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin. The site, near the town of Oswiecim in southern Poland, is fenced off with barbed wire. The wooden barracks for the prisoners and the ruins of the gas chambers remain as evidence of the Nazi crimes. There is also a monument to the victims where commemoration ceremonies are held every year.

“It’s an incredible move and it’s very sad and tragic that people can do this to other people,” Musk said of the visit. “I’m a student of history, so I’ve seen the pictures, I’ve seen the videos, but … it hits you more in the heart when you see it in person.”

Musk was expected to visit on Tuesday and take part in a memorial service, along with political figures attending the EJA conference in Krakow, but showed up at the Nazi death camp on Monday.

“Due to scheduling concerns, prior to Elon Musk’s arrival at the European Jewish Association conference, he shared a private visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Ben Shapiro and Holocaust survivor Gidon Lev. of death and participated in a short memorial ceremony and service at the Birkenau memorial,” the EJA said in an email.

Oliver Bradley, an EJA media adviser, said the organization “challenged” Musk to go to Auschwitz during a Zoom conference on antisemitism on social media a few months ago.

“Musk shrugged his shoulders at the suggestion that he already knew the history of the Holocaust … as if the visit was unlikely to be an impactful experience,” Bradley said.

But Margolin, the EJA chairman, “successfully convinced Musk of the need to experience a place of genocide to even begin to truly understand the dimensions of the Holocaust,” Bradley said.

X, the social media platform Musk bought when it was known as Twitter, did not respond to a request for comment about his trip, sending an automated message that said, “Busy today, please come back later.” SpaceX, Musk’s rocket company, also did not respond to email requests for comment.

The EJA conference on the rise of antisemitism was held in Krakow ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

Over 1.1 million people were killed by the Nazis and their henchmen at Auschwitz during World War II. Most of those killed were Jews, but the victims also included Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, and others. In total, about 6 million European Jews died during the Holocaust. When the Soviets liberated the camp, they found about 7,000 survivors.

Musk said that if social media had existed during World War II, the Holocaust would have been “impossible to hide” and lives could have been saved.

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AP writers Kelvin Chan in London, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw and Vanessa Gera contributed to this report.

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