Elon Musk has publicly apologized after creating a firestorm of controversy by indicating he agreed with a tweet that accused Jewish communities of hating white people.
The backlash he received in response included advertiser boycotts of his massive social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Musk’s apology came while being interviewed on stage at a New York Times event in New York hosted by Andrew Sorkin on Wednesday. Sorkin began addressing the issue by referencing Musk’s visit to Israel earlier this week, which many observers theorized to be damage control for having sparked a crisis within X. While there, the business mogul witnessed evidence of the devastation wrought by Hamas’ October terror attack.
Musk initially objected to the characterization of his trip to Israel as an “apology tour,” claiming, “I have no problem being hated.” He contended that his post was being mischaracterized and pointed to further posts he made to clarify his original statement. But when Sorkin pressed that as “an American Jew” himself, he believed any nuance in Musk’s statement would be overwhelmed by the encouragement it gave to “people who really are antisemites,” Musk offered an apology.
“If I could go back and say, I should, in retrospect, not have replied to that particular person. And I should have written in greater length as to what I meant,” Musk prefaced. “Essentially I handed a loaded gun to those who hate me, and arguably to those who are antisemitic, and for that, I am quite sorry. That was not my intention,” he acquiesced.
Musk went on to say, “I am not antisemitic. And that I, in fact, if anything, am philosemitic. And the trip to Israel was planned before any of that happened.”
When Sorkin returned to the public perception that the Israel trip was partly to staunch X’s hemorrhaging of advertisers, Musk once again became defiant and cursed advertisers who have threatened to walk away while also accusing them of attempting blackmail.
“Don’t advertise,” Musk proclaimed to the audience during Sorkin’s interview, adding, “If someone’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go f**k yourself.”
When Sorkin pointed out that the X business model relies on advertising, Musk allowed for the likelihood that a boycott by large corporations would destroy the platform but cautioned that those corporations might face a public backlash.
“What this advertising boycott is going to do is, it is going to kill the company. And the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company,” he said.