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Judaism’s largest US denomination pens open letter to Elon Musk over rise in Twitter hate speech

The Union for Reform Judaism expressed concern Musk may have his own white supremacist sympathies

Judaism’s largest organized U.S. denomination is calling on Elon Musk to do more to combat hate speech on Twitter.

In an open letter, the Union for Reform Judaism said the growth of antisemitic speech and other forms of hatred on the platform has become a cause for concern.

Both reports and our own experiences demonstrate an increase in antisemitic and white supremacist posts and images on the platform,” they wrote. “The recent disbanding of the Trust and Safety advisory group compounds our concern.”

The organization said that though it is committed to the principles of free speech, those who peddle hate “are not entitled to a global megaphone.”

They express concern about Musk himself, noting that some of his own tweets have included Nazi imagery and Pepe the Frog — a cartoon character that has been adopted as a mascot by the alt-right — which suggests “sympathy for white supremacists.”

“No matter your intent, we unequivocally condemn anything that affirms those who espouse hate, including against Jews,” they write, adding that recent events like the Tree of Life massacre and the hostage-taking at a Texas synagogue are examples of online hate translating to real-world violence. 

The URJ has posted the letter to its site, asking Jewish institutions and organizations to co-sign. A spokesperson for the organization declined to comment but said more information on the anti-hate speech campaign would likely be coming in January. 

Since Musk’s $44 billion purchase of the social networking site in October, numerous prominent antisemites and other bigots whose accounts had previously been suspended have been reinstated. While Musk has insisted that hate speech has declined since his purchase, experts tracking online bigotry have insisted the opposite is true. Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” who would welcome all discourse short of calls for violence, but Twitter has suspended the accounts of journalists and critics since his takeover. 

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