Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in California before dawn on Monday to meet with the controversial billionaire owner of X who has been taken to task for allowing antisemitic posts on his platform.
Netanyahu was eyeing the creation of an artificial intelligence directorate that will be run out of his office as he headed to a meeting with Elon Musk, according to an Israeli source.
Netanyahu and Musk will hold a live conversation on Twitter, now X, starting at 9:15 a.m. California time, in which they will both interview each other.
The Prime Minister’s decision to visit Silicon Valley underscores the importance Netanyahu places on Israel’s role in global innovation and his early recognition, particularly of the revolutionary nature of artificial intelligence.
During their private meeting prior to the live event, Netanyahu will seek to sway Musk to invest in Israel. In speaking to reporters on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport.
“I will start this visit in California where I intend to meet the current leader of the most dramatic development in the new age and perhaps in general, Elon Musk.
“I will discuss artificial intelligence with him and I will also work toward encouraging him to invest in Israel in the coming years.
“He is, to a large degree, paving the way that will change the face of humanity and also the face of the State of Israel. Israel needs to be a leader in artificial intelligence. Just as we turned it into a leader in cyber, so we will do in this field as well.”
American Jews' views of the judicial reform
But the meeting itself is viewed by centrist and left-leaning American Jews as symbolic of Netanyahu's dismissal of issues top on their agenda, such as antisemitism and his judicial reform program which they fear will transform Israel into a dictatorship.
They have planned rallies both in California and especially at his next stop in New York, where he is scheduled to address the high-level opening sessions of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.It’s his first trip to the US since his return to office in December and will include a face-to-face meeting with US President Joe Biden in New York on Wednesday.
Biden’s objections to Netanyahu’s judicial reform have prevented him to date from inviting Netanyahu to the Oval Office, a step traditionally taken by US Presidents when a new Israeli government is sworn in.
While in New York Netanyahu will also meet with German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, South Korean President Yoon Seok-Yeol, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and others.