OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Tesla boss Elon Musk exchanged plenty of barbs over the past year regarding artificial intelligence. But on Friday, Musk expressed agreement with Altman’s assessment of something quite different: antisemitism.
This week, Harvard president Claudine Gay and other university leaders were grilled on Capitol Hill on how their institutions had responded to antisemitism, against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war. They faced backlash from lawmakers and the White House over their carefully worded responses, and later followed up with stronger condemnation of hate speech against Jewish students.
“For a long time I said that antisemitism, particularly on the American left, was not as bad as people claimed,” Altman, who is of Jewish descent, posted to X on Thursday evening. “I’d like to just state that I was totally wrong. I still don’t understand it, really. Or know what to do about it. But it is so f**ked.”
Musk responded with a simple “yes” on Friday.
While such a reply might normally seem unremarkable, it dropped as Musk has been responding to intense backlash—including from the White House and Tesla investors—over endorsing an antisemitic post by another user on X last month.
The post read, “Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” It echoed an antisemitic conspiracy theory often espoused by hate groups that accuses Jews of wanting to flood Western countries with nonwhite immigrants.
Musk replied with, “You have said the actual truth.”
He followed up with a reference to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish advocacy group he threatened to sue in September, saying it was “trying to kill this platform” by falsely accusing it and him of being antisemitic.
“The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel,” he wrote. “This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat.”
Musk, a self-described “free-speech absolutist,” owns X, which he bought for $44 billion last year when it was still called Twitter.
A day after Musk’s comments, Media Matters, a liberal watchdog organization, said it found ads on X for major companies—including Bravo, Oracle, and IBM—next to posts celebrating Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
IBM then said it had pulled its advertising from the platform, citing “zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination.” Disney, Lionsgate, and Paramount Global also said they were suspending or pausing advertising.
Musk vowed a “thermonuclear” lawsuit against Media Matters and others “who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company,” with X filing the lawsuit on Nov. 20.
Musk also went on the offensive against the mainstream media and Disney CEO Bob Iger.
“This past week, there were hundreds of bogus media stories claiming that I am antisemitic,” he posted. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
He wrote on Thursday that Iger “should be fired immediately,” and that “Walt Disney is turning in his grave over what Bob has done to his company.”
Musk also suggested Iger should pull ads from Meta’s platforms. He pointed to an article about New Mexico state filing a lawsuit against Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, alleging they allowed Facebook and Instagram to become “a marketplace for predators in search of children upon whom to prey.”
That followed Musk responding with a vulgarity at the New York Times Dealbook Summit to Iger’s earlier comments at the event on why Disney stopped advertising on X. “We just felt that the association with… Elon Musk and X was not necessarily a positive one for us,” Iger said.
Musk responded later while on stage, “If someone is going to try and blackmail me with advertising? Blackmail me with money? Go f— yourself…Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience, that’s how I feel: don’t advertise.”
Musk also visited Israel after the controversy, though he said at the Dealbook Summit that it wasn’t an “apology tour” for the post on X.
Some prominent figures have come to Musk’s defense, among them billionaire investor Bill Ackman, who has been a strong critic of Harvard University’s response to claims of antisemitism on its campus. The founder of Pershing Square Capital Management wrote on X, “Elon Musk is not an antisemite,” adding, “It is remarkable how quickly the world stands ready to attack Musk for his shoot-from-the-hip commentary.”
At the Dealbook summit, Musk admitted that in retrospect, he would “not have replied to that particular post,” adding, “I handed a loaded gun to those who hate me, and arguably to those who are antisemitic, and for that I am quite sorry.”