May 17, 2023
Tesla and Twitter owner Elon Musk lashed out at Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor George Soros on Twitter late Monday night. He tweeted that the billionaire philanthropist reminded him of Magneto, the mutant anti-hero in the X-Men comics who harbors hatred toward humans and protects mutants by any means necessary.
In response to pushback, Musk took it a step further, accusing Soros of attempting to “erode the very fabric of civilization” while expressing his belief that Soros “hates humanity.”
Here’s why Musk’s allegations and his X-Men analogy, posted to one of Twitter’s most prominent accounts, pose a danger to Jews.
1. What did Elon Musk say?
“Soros reminds me of Magneto.” These five words, tweeted by Elon Musk late Monday night, sparked a torrent of affirmations and condemnations from thousands of his 140 million followers.
But it was the response tweeted by one of those followers that prompted Musk to take it a step further.
“Fun fact: Magneto's experiences during the Holocaust as a survivor shaped his perspective as well as his depth and empathy,” reporter Brian Krassenstein wrote. “Soro (sic), also a Holocaust survivor, get's (sic) attacked nonstop for his good intentions which some Americans think are bad merely because they disagree with this political affiliation.”
Fun fact: Magneto's experiences during the Holocaust as a survivor shaped his perspective as well as his depth and empathy. Soro, also a Holocaust survivor, get's attacked nonstop for his good intentions which some Americans think are bad merely because they disagree with this…— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) May 16, 2023
Musk fired back: “You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.”
You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2023
Musk’s intentions remain unclear. Three days earlier, Soros Fund Management announced that it had sold all its shares in Tesla, the electric car company that largely affects Musk’s net worth. Soros is also intensely criticized in certain political circles for advocacy for progressive causes.
This isn’t the first problematic remark or action from Musk. Last year, he compared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler to show support for Canadian truckers protesting the country’s COVID vaccination policies.
Furthermore, shortly after Musk’s takeover of Twitter last fall, the platform reinstated Kanye West and other prominent individuals known for their antisemitic views who had been suspended for hate speech. Last October, West, now also known as Ye, notoriously posted antisemitic tropes on his social media accounts, shared antisemitic conspiracy theories with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and later, on Twitter, threatened violence against Jews.
2. Who is Magneto?
Magneto is a fictional comic book character introduced in 1963 by Jewish comic book creator Stan Lee of Marvel Comics. His storyline was expanded in the 1980s by writer Chris Claremont who has said he took inspiration from the journey of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who headed the Zionist paramilitary group the Irgun prior to Israel’s founding and whose family was murdered in the Holocaust.
Born Max Eisenhardt, Magneto, who also went by the alias Erik Lehnsherr, is a powerful mutant. In the Marvel world, that means he’s a human being with superhuman powers thanks to a special X-gene. Magneto’s superpower is being able to generate and control magnetic fields.
A survivor of the Holocaust, Magneto does not believe that mutants and humans can peacefully coexist and seeks to protect mutants from bigotry and persecution at all costs – some of which are quite extreme.
What does this have to do with Begin? Claremont has said Begin evolved from being a Zionist warrior in 1947 to a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1978 for his role in negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. Similarly, Magneto’s empathy and intentions have led him to become a force for good.
3. Why are Musk’s analogy and subsequent remarks problematic?
Criticizing Soros or his politics and actions is not antisemitic. He is often criticized by Republicans due to his advocacy for progressive causes.
Lambasting a political stance or actions is one thing. But it’s no coincidence that out of the many characters in the X-men series, Musk compared Soros to a supervillain with a not only a strong Jewish background but whom was also a Holocaust survivor.
Casting Soros as a boogeyman or using him as a symbol for Jewish wealth, control, and power is, again, no coincidence – these classic conspiracy theories have been used against Jews for millennia. Musk's remarks are dangerous as they spread conspiracies and can reinforce the sentiments of individuals who harbor hatred toward Jews.
And to say that Soros wants to destroy humanity is the kind of harmful hyperbole that has been used against Jews for centuries. AJC’s Translate Hate glossary of antisemitic terms and tropes clarifies the difference.
What will your score be?
4. Here’s what you can do.
All social media platforms need to strengthen hate speech policies across their platforms.
Join AJC in calling on Meta, TikTok, YouTube, and even Elon Musk’s Twitter, to address anti-Jewish hate by implementing policy recommendations from AJC’s Call to Action Against Antisemitism in America. Those recommendations include utilizing the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and Translate Hate, an online glossary of antisemitic tropes and phrases.
The Call to Action also suggests hiring a point person focused on the Jewish community to listen to the community’s concerns and ensure antisemitism is understood, recognized, and properly addressed by the company’s senior leadership. The top is a good place to start.