September 11, 2023

Elon v. ADL

Elon Musk said he may sue the Anti-Defamation League for purportedly accusing X and the billionaire owner of the social platform of antisemitism and fueling advertisers' exodus from the social network. In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Monday, Musk accused the civil rights group of ‘trying to kill’ X by ‘falsely accusing it & [him] of being anti-Semitic.’…

“In another post he claimed that X's falling advertising revenue, which has plunged roughly 60% since his formal takeover of the platform in October of 2022, is ‘primarily due to pressure on advertisers’ by the ADL.” CBS News

Last week, [ADL CEO Jonathan] Greenblatt said in an X post that he had a ‘very frank + productive conversation’ with newly appointed X CEO Linda Yaccarino on how ‘to address hate effectively on the platform,’ adding that he ‘appreciated her reaching out and I’m hopeful the service will improve.’…

“Shortly after Greenblatt commented about his conversation, #BanTheADL began trending on X as some users called for the nonprofit to be banned from the messaging platform… Musk then began engaging with some of the anti-ADL posts on X, liking some of the comments and even responding to them.” CNBC

See past issues

From the Left

The left criticizes Musk, arguing that his response itself has been anti-Semitic.

“The ADL has criticized Twitter for failing to take action against hate speech, charging that fewer than a third of posts flagged for antisemitic content were removed or sanctioned; and it joined other civil rights groups last year in calling for advertiser boycotts. But clearly, if anything has destroyed the value of the company for which he paid an ill-considered $44bn, it’s been Musk himself…

He’s made a series of stunningly bad decisions that seemed designed to drive away users and advertisers. Rebranding Twitter, nonsensically, as X was one; another was removing unpaid verification symbols, making it much more difficult to figure out who is real and who is an impostor. Yet another was the restoration of thousands of banned accounts…

“Twitter was far from great under its co-founder Jack Dorsey, but at least an army of content moderators tried to restrain the worst offenders. Under Musk’s control, many of those employees have been fired or have departed in disgust.”

Margaret Sullivan, The Guardian

“Since Musk took over X, antisemitic tweets more than doubled in the following months, according to research by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a nonpartisan think tank, and CASM Technology, a start-up that researches disinformation and hate speech online…  

“Between June and Oct. 26, 2022, the day before Twitter's acquisition by Musk, there was a weekly average of 6,204 tweets deemed ‘plausibly antisemitic,’ meaning at least one reasonable interpretation of the tweet fell within the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of the term… But from Oct. 27 until Feb 9, 2023, the average was 12,762 – an increase of 105%.”

Areeba Shah, Salon

“Far from offering a considered critique of [the ADL], the bombastic billionaire has instead circulated cartoonish conspiracy theories about it. ‘The ADL, because they are so aggressive in their demands to ban social media accounts for even minor infractions, are ironically the biggest generators of anti-Semitism on this platform,’ Musk wrote [last week]. Abuse of Jews on his site, he argued, is the consequence of Jews complaining about the abuse. (Chronology does not appear to be his strong suit.)…

“Though the ADL is not the cause of Twitter’s continuing unprofitability, it is a convenient culprit on which to pin the platform’s many failures. Anti-Semites love to blame Jews for whatever problems they personally perceive in the world. What is being done to the ADL on Twitter right now has little to do with the group’s conduct and everything to do with the symbolic role Jews play in the conspiratorial imagination.”

Yair Rosenberg, The Atlantic

From the Right

The right is generally critical of the ADL, and divided about the current controversy.

The right is generally critical of the ADL, and divided about the current controversy.

“[Greenblatt] has created a partisan leftist social justice outfit… So it would be no surprise if the ADL were leading a politically motivated boycott effort. Musk, for example, contends that the ADL wants him to ban the Libs of TikTok, a popular account run by an orthodox Jew, Chaya Raichik, who gained fame by reposting real leftists saying real things. It’s certainly plausible, considering the ADL already has an entry for Raichik in its ‘glossary of terms.’…

The ADL has spent years exaggerating the threat of antisemitism on the right, finding offense not only in demonstrably ugly speech, but also in an endless number of dog whistles (including criticisms of leftist megadonor George Soros). At the same time, it gives perfunctory attention (but mostly ignores) the threat and normalization of anti-Jewish sentiment among leftists on college campuses, within activist movements, and in the government.”

David Harsanyi, New York Post

“Today's ADL operates hand in hand with other formerly august institutions such as the SPLC and CAIR, dedicated to the proposition that all speech is not created equal. Having failed to persuade, the Left is now committed to censorship. And as state and federal governments get in on the act, the ACLU and other self-described champions of civil liberties are silent, or even cheer them on.”

Ron Coleman, Newsweek

“The ADL is indeed a terrible organization, but when white supremacist, antisemitic conspiracy theorists are its loudest critics, you have to be somewhere between naive and moronic not to consider their primary motive… There’s white supremacist Nick Fuentes, there’s Keith O’Brien (the pseudonym of far-right Irish activist Keith Woods, who is ‘best friends’ with Fuentes), and there’s Jake Shields, former MMA fighter, defender of Kanye West, and conspiracy theorist.”

Ian Haworth, Washington Examiner

“There’s no reason to believe that Musk himself hates Jews, and his war against the ADL may be just another performative action to burnish his credentials on the right as a champion of free speech. But there are plenty of bad actors who do hate Jews, and, by singling out the ADL as being especially responsible for suppressing free speech, he has stirred up a hornets’ nest…

“Those who see Jews as uniquely responsible for all the world’s ills are now pointing to Musk’s comments about the ADL as validation that, yes, in fact, Jews work behind the scenes in a sinister way, weaponizing false accusations of antisemitism to carry out their nefarious plots.”

Philip Klein, National Review

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please email us at if you continue to have issues!