Netanyahu urges Musk to combat antisemitism on social media during U.S. visit
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kicked off a U.S. trip in California to talk to billionaire businessman Elon Musk about antisemitism on his social media platform X — while Musk asked him to address his judicial overhaul in Israel. The two also discussed artificial intelligence in a sparsely-attended livestream event Monday.
Netanyahu’s high-profile visit to the San Francisco Bay Area comes at a time when Musk is facing accusations of tolerating antisemitic messages on his social media platform, while Netanyahu is confronting political opposition at home and abroad. Protesters gathered early Monday outside the Fremont, California factory where Tesla makes its cars.
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Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken part in nine months of demonstrations against Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul Israel’s judicial system. Those protests have spread overseas, with groups of Israeli expats staging demonstrations during visits by Netanyahu and other members of his Cabinet.
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Netanyahu says the judicial overhaul plan is needed to curb the powers of unelected judges, whom he and his allies say are liberal and overly interventionist. Critics say his plan is a power grab that will destroy the country’s system of checks and balances and push it toward autocratic rule.
Leading figures in Israel’s influential high-tech community have played a prominent role in the protests. They say weakening the judiciary will hurt the country’s business climate and drive away foreign investment. Israel’s currency, the shekel, has plunged in value this year in a sign of weakening foreign investment.
Netanyahu played down his overhaul as a needed, minor correction to curb what he described as excessive powers of his country’s judiciary. Critics say the plan, which includes a proposal for controlling the appointment of the nation’s judges, would concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies. Netanyahu also made no mention of his corruption trial. Netanyahu describes himself as a victim of a witch hunt and his critics say the overhaul is motivated by his anger at the legal system.