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May 24, 2023 10:54 am

Elon Musk, George Soros, and Modern Antisemitism

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avatar by Lev Stesin


Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla. Photo: Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein.

On Monday, May 15, Elon Musk attacked George Soros in a tweet. Musk often attacks everything and everyone — with China being a notable exception. This time, he got carried away by the smell of Twitter blood. Musk ended up doubling down on his position, later saying that Soros reminds him of the fictional Marvel supervillain, Magneto. Musk also suggested that Soros has an outsized and nefarious impact on world affairs.

So why did George Soros end up on Elon Musk’s radar? In my view, the answer is simple. Musk’s attention is driven by his personal interests. According to regulatory filings, a few days prior to the tweet, Soros Fund Management, the financier’s hedge fund, liquidated all Tesla shares acquired since the second quarter of 2022.

What if Musk’s ire had absolutely nothing to do with either recent or past Soros political stands, ideological transgressions, or philanthropic activities — but because he had hurt Musk’s ego, perhaps even more than his pocketbook. It was business, but for Elon Musk, it is always personal.

For those who aren’t aware, Magneto is one of Marvel’s few Jewish characters. He is a powerful mutant, leading other mutants in their struggle against humanity. He is a Holocaust survivor, and his concentration camp experiences shape his attitudes and beliefs. To add some more color, one author who came up with Magneto’s backstory, says the character was inspired by then-Israeli opposition leader and later Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin.

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It is well known that Musk is a Marvel aficionado. It’s hard to believe he is not aware of Magneto’s Jewish identity. It would also offend our intellect to assume that Soros’ and Magneto’s shared Jewishness is a pure coincidence.

It wasn’t inherently antisemitic to compare Soros to Magneto, even though it’s a comparison between two Jewish “supervillains.” Unfortunately, Musk went further. In the follow up to his original tweet, he emphatically declared: “Soros hates humanity.” Now we have a case.

Many authors writing on this topic have focused on the personality and activities of Soros. One may agree with Soros or think he is a far-left agitator. One may even claim, due to his lack of support for Jewish causes, that Soros’ isn’t a firm defender of the Jewish people. But that is irrelevant to the subject at hand.

Modern antisemitism begins by attacking well-known, perhaps notorious Jewish individuals, describing them as omnipotent, power hungry, and ideologically deranged. It describes a cabal that is the de facto “head” of world Jewry. Then it moves those leaders and all other Jews as outside of humanity — all powerful creatures manipulating world events. The Jews cannot be “fixed,” and, as a result, few options are left to deal with the problem.

The Rothschilds, “The Elders of Zion,” “Mein Kampf,” and now Soros conspiracies all follow that pattern. The Nazis succeeded in its antisemitic propaganda by arguing the Jews were against humanity, and humanity needed to be defended by all means necessary. Magneto has to be defeated.

Can antisemitism be accidental? Can someone say things that are antisemitic without realizing that? The answer is unequivocally “yes.” Does that make those antisemitic statements less antisemitic? The answer is unequivocally “no.” Either way, Musk, to use soccer terminology, may not be getting a red card for his antisemitic trope, but definitely a yellow one. And a yellow card, like a yellow star for Jews, means a lot.

The author lives and works in Silicon Valley, California. He is a founding member of San Francisco Voice for Israel.

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