Elon Musk visits Israel after accusations of anti-Semitism – and discusses the launch of Starlink in the Gaza Strip

by alex

Musk flew to Israel on Monday to visit the region where Islamic militant group Hamas killed 1,200 people on October 7.

Despite all of Musk's comments and decisions, world leaders cannot criticize him for long – the world's richest man controls powerful technological tools. In this case, he is using the Starlink Internet service as a means of his political influence.

“Musk is a player in the global order who should probably have a seat on the UN Security Council,” said Tehilla Schwartz Altshuler, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute.

Meanwhile, Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi tweeted that he was discussing a deal with Starlink.

Last month, Musk offered to provide Internet services to Gaza and said Starlink would help maintain connections with “internationally recognized aid organizations.” But Karhi rejected the proposal at the time, saying that “Hamas is using it for terrorist activities.”

Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, often discusses political issues on X, which he acquired last year for $44 billion. However, he went too far last time by endorsing an anti-Semitic post that claimed Jews had “hate” for white people.

The global response was swift and brutal, with major companies like Apple and Disney suspending advertising on the platform. The New York Times reported that advertiser exodus could cost X $75 million in revenue this year.

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It is unclear how Musk’s trip to Israel was organized—he was invited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or the billionaire himself initiated the visit. But the overall warm reception in the country combined the request to regulate anti-Semitic comments on X with the discussion of satellites.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Musk wrote on X on Monday.

Now Starlink has about 4,500 satellites – more than half of all active satellites providing the Earth with high-speed Internet. Last year, the company was valued at $140 billion, and Musk recently announced it was breaking even, which could mean a potential entry into the stock exchange.

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Since the early days of Russia's full-scale invasion, Starlink has provided satellite internet to Ukraine, although the service has been subject to some of Musk's whims. Last year, he proposed that the country cede Crimea to Russia as part of a peace agreement – and, of course, faced sharp criticism. After this, the billionaire threatened to stop providing Internet services to the country due to the financial burden on SpaceX – in the end, the Pentagon took on the costs.

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Musk also refused to activate Starlink near Crimea, which prevented the Ukrainian military from attacking the Russian fleet – the billionaire explained his decision by saying that he did not want complicity in the war and escalation of the conflict, having received approval from Russian officials.

Taiwan, meanwhile, is looking for its own satellite Internet service provider – Musk and his Starlink are the obvious solution, but the billionaire is not trusted due to the billionaire's business ties to China and pro-Beijing comments (Musk once proposed making Taiwan a special administrative region of China – in response Taiwanese officials recommended that the billionaire “hire a political adviser”).

Despite the fact that Musk's political views often lead to disputes with world leaders, in recent months he has tried for Israel. Musk and Netanyahu met in California in September, where they discussed rampant anti-Semitism on X. Musk then said:

“I am obviously against anti-Semitism. I am against everything that promotes hatred and conflict.”

On Monday, Netanyahu showed Musk videos of brutal crimes committed by Hamas. They broadcast publicly on X and agreed to help rebuild Gaza and support the Palestinians.

If Netanyahu's goal was to convince Musk of Hamas' brutality and hatred of Israel, he may have achieved that. But according to Tehilla Schwartz Altshuler, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, Musk's power as the owner of Starlink and X far outweighs his personal beliefs.

“We see X not deleting neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic content, and accounts ranging from the President of Iran to Jackson Hinkle,” she said, referring to the American political commentator and social media influencer. “This is contrary to the standards of Community X, which is financially compensating these accounts based on the new advertising distribution plan.”

Musk, meanwhile, summed up his visit with a brief comment in X:

“As cliché as it may sound, I wish for world peace.”

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