Late on Thursday, Israel’s minister of diaspora affairs, Amichai Chikli, tweeted nearly the exact opposite. “As Israel’s minister who’s entrusted on combating anti-Semitism, I would like to clarify that the Israeli government and the vast majority of Israeli citizens see Elon Musk as an amazing entrepreneur and a role model.
“Criticism of Soros — who finances the most hostile organizations to the Jewish people and the state of Israel is anything but anti-Semitism, quite the opposite!” he added.
The contrast highlights Israel’s split view of Soros, with some saying that his critics employ classic antisemitic tropes to delegitimize him, and conservatives who say his liberal politics cause damage to Israel and to the Jewish people.
On Monday, Musk sparked a Twitter storm after accusing Soros — the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, liberal billionaire philanthropist and longtime focal point of antisemitic conspiracy theories — of hating humanity and seeking “to erode the very fabric of civilization.”
“Soros reminds me of Magneto,” Musk tweeted late Monday, likening the financier to an evil Marvel comic book character who is portrayed as a Holocaust survivor seeking to replace humans with mutants as the world’s dominant race. The character is based, according to its creator, on former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.
Musk’s comments came three days after Soros’s investment fund reported having sold all its stock in Tesla, Musk’s electric car company.
It also coincides with growing outrage over what critics say is Musk’s gross mismanagement of the social media platform that has enabled the proliferation of antisemitism and other forms of hate speech. Since Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion last October, antisemitic tweets have at least doubled and accounts created to disseminate vitriolic content have risen threefold, according to an analysis by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a nonpartisan think tank, and CASM Technology, a start-up that researches disinformation and hate speech online.
Online vitriol against Soros has risen alongside Israel’s far-right in recent years. Many say Soros’s support for J Street, the moderate pro-peace lobbying group; B’Tselem, the human rights group; and other liberal groups in Israel and the Palestinian territories aims to delegitimize Israel. Many right-wing Israelis also accuse Soros of antisemitism.
Netanyahu has for years drawn criticism for his strategy of politicizing the Holocaust and has been accused of turning a blind eye to antisemitic incidents when they are endorsed or propagated by political allies abroad, especially in increasingly illiberal democracies like Hungary and Poland.
In 2017, in what was viewed as an attempt by Netanyahu to curry favor with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Israel’s Foreign Ministry backed an Orban billboard campaign blaming Soros for Europe’s immigration crisis.
Once again, there were split messages from Israel, with its ambassador to Hungary initially criticizing the campaign because it “evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear,” referencing the complicity of Hungarian nationals in the deportation of 500,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. Hours later, the Foreign Ministry said that Soros “continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments.”
Days later, Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, posted a doctored meme showing Soros dangling a globe in front of a reptilian creature. The meme was shared widely on antisemitic conspiracy theory news sites and social media groups. It was retweeted by former Ku Klux Klan leader and Holocaust denier David Duke.
The neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website also congratulated the meme, calling Yair “a total bro.”