UK PM Rishi Sunak abhors antisemitism ‘whether you are Elon Musk or…’
UK PM Rishi Sunak condemned antisemitism and criticized X owner Elon Musk for his recent remarks surrounding the Israel-Hamas war.
Rishi Sunak said he condemns antisemitism "in all its forms," in a careful criticism of Elon Musk that stopped short of the full-throated condemnation by US President Joe Biden and others who have accused the tech entrepreneur of amplifying anti-Jewish hatred on his X social media platform
"I don't tend to get in the business of scrutinizing what every single person says who I've interacted with. Of course I abhor antisemitism," UK PM Sunak said in a Bloomberg TV interview on Sunday, when asked about his views on Musk. "It doesn't matter whether you're Elon Musk or you're someone on the street who's shouting abuse at someone who happens to be walking past you, that's wrong in all its forms. Antisemitism in all its forms is completely and utterly wrong."
Mr Musk triggered a backlash this month when he agreed with a post on X, formerly Twitter, that falsely claimed Jewish people are stoking hatred against White people, saying the user was speaking "the actual truth." Firms including Disney, Apple and Warner Bros withdrew advertising spending. Biden's office condemned the "abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms."
UK PM Sunak has been dragged into the furor because he chose to share a stage with Musk at the UK's AI Safety Summit in early November. The premier interviewed the tech entrepreneur for nearly an hour, discussing how technology could make paid work redundant - though without generating any particular controversy.
Still, the event raised eyebrows at the time, and Musk's subsequent remarks on X have led to questions about UK PM Sunak's judgment.
In his weekly Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons last week, the UK PM was asked by an opposition Labour Party lawmaker to condemn Mr Musk. He declined to do so, instead turning the question into an opportunity to attack the MP's record and accusing him of not understanding "the importance of technology sectors and companies to the growth of our economy."
On Sunday, tens of thousands of people, including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, attended a march against antisemitism in central London. The Israel-Hamas conflict has exacerbated community tensions and led to a spike in antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crimes. Pro-Palestinian marches have also taken place regularly since Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Antisemitism is "kind of like an old spore of a virus that lurks beneath the floorboards of Western civilization, our collective memory, and it comes out from time to time," Johnson told GB News on Sunday. "We're seeing a flare up, and we need to call it out."
Speaking to Bloomberg, Rishi Sunak said incidents of antisemitism in recent weeks were "unacceptable" and that the police are under orders to bring people to justice. "We've been unequivocal from the start of this situation, that it is not acceptable in our society," he said.
Mr Musk is set to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog in Israel on Monday, the nation's Channel 12 TV said Sunday. He has denied being anti-Semitic in a post on X.