Two prominent investors and opinion leaders in the Israeli tech sphere criticized the content of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s with Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday.
Prominent venture capitalist Michael Eisenberg, expressing his frustration with Netanyahu, urged the Israeli Prime Minister to take a decisive stance on the matter, saying, “Netanyahu claimed there that he opposed Levin’s legal reform from the first moment. If so, let him also say in Hebrew and bury the reform that is distracting everyone. [The ongoing controversy] neutralizes the government, which causes division in the people. We are missing a historic opportunity and dividing the people and losing technological assets because of idle quarrels over a reform that the prime minister apparently did not agree to in the first place.”
Eisenberg also underscored the significance of the meeting in the context of global power dynamics, stating, “The very fact that the Prime Minister of Israel met with Elon Musk before he met with the President of the United States conveys something profound about a shift in power in the world. The CEOs of technology companies are stronger today than world leaders. They are a center of power.”
However, Eisenberg criticized Netanyahu for not taking a more proactive approach to staking Israel’s claim in the global development of AI, questioning, “What is Israel’s place in artificial intelligence? What does he intend to do as a leader? What do he and the state intend to invest in? How much will he invest in artificial intelligence that is critical to national security and our economic — and even Jewish — future?”
‘AI’s primary purpose should be to empower democracy’
Netanyahu and Musk held a live-streamed meeting addressing several critical issues, including hate speech, controversial judicial reform, and the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). This meeting followed controversies related to antisemitic content on Musk’s platform, X (formerly Twitter). They discussed Musk’s recent disputes with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), with Musk accusing the ADL of affecting X’s ad revenue without evidence and considering banning them. During the meeting, Netanyahu encouraged Musk to balance free expression and combating hate speech.
Eisenberg’s critique of Netanyahu‘s approach to AI was echoed by Erel Margalit, Founder and Chairman of the Jerusalem Venture Partners Fund (JVP) and Margalit Startup City, who cautioned, “In the wrong hands, AI could pose the gravest threat to humanity today. As such, it is imperative that AI remains beyond the reach of dictators who undermine, rather than uphold, the interests of the people. AI’s primary purpose should be to serve and empower democracy, rather than surveil or dictate the lives of its citizens. Its allegiance must forever lie with democracy, never falling into the grasp of those who oppose it.”
Margalit further criticized the prime minister for allowing the judicial reform plan to move forward, asserting, “Netanyahu’s attempts to transform Israel’s judicial system from a democracy into a form of a dictatorship make him the least suitable candidate to wield control over AI or any other cyber technologies.
“If entrusted to him, such technology would likely be wielded against the Israeli people, rather than for their benefit. Netanyahu’s extremist racist government is a clear threat and cannot be in charge of this technology, as their intentions run counter to the best interests of the Israeli people.”