Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), pictured at the Capitol on March 13, 2019, were the suvject of a barrage of hateful Facebook posts from an Israeli-based company.

Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), pictured at the Capitol on March 13, 2019, were the suvject of a barrage of hateful Facebook posts from an Israeli-based company. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Investigation Uncovers Israel-Based Group Behind Bigoted Facebook Smear Campaign Aimed at US Muslim Congresswomen

"The goal of these anti-Muslim hate campaigns is clear—they put Muslim lives here and around the world at risk and undermine our country's commitment to religious pluralism."

Eoin Higgins, staff writer

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress, have been the target of a sustained campaign of far right hate and lies originating from a shadowy Israeli group, according to an investigation published Thursday by The Guardian.

"The goal of these anti-Muslim hate campaigns is clear," Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, told The Guardian, "they put Muslim lives here and around the world at risk and undermine our country's commitment to religious pluralism."

The report details how a jewelry salesman and "online operator" from the Tel Aviv area named Ariel Elkaras and others were part of a vast coordinated effort that utilized "21 far-right Facebook pages across the U.S., Australia, the U.K., Canada, Austria, Israel, and Nigeria" to spread malicious lies about the two congresswomen. 

According to the Guardian:

Somali-born Omar is the most frequent target. She has been mentioned in more than 1,400 posts since the network began two years ago. Tlaib has been mentioned nearly 1,200 times. Both totals are far higher than any other member of Congress.

Informed of the investigation's findings, Facebook took down many of the identified posts and accounts—but the tech giant told The Guardian that it did so not due to the hateful and false nature of the content but because the company believes the Israeli-based group was using the misinformation and bigoted posts to generate advertising revenue. 

Both Omar and Tlaib have been the target of hateful rhetoric from President Donald Trump and have received death threats. Tlaib, a Democrat from Detroit, Michigan, read one of those messages directed at her aloud at a June hearing on white supremacist violence.

Last week, a Republican candidate for Congress in Florida, George Buck, suggested in a fundraising letter to supporters that Omar should be hanged.

"The fact that those who make these violent threats very publicly without hesitation reaffirms just how much white supremacy has spread within the @NRCC," Tlaib tweeted of Buck's threats Wednesday.

In her comments to The Guardian, Omar pointed the finger at Facebook for the company's inaction. 

"I've said it before and I'll say it again: Facebook's complacency is a threat to our democracy," said Omar. "It has become clear that they do not take seriously the degree to which they provide a platform for white nationalist hate and dangerous misinformation in this country and around the world."

"And there is a clear reason for this," Omar added, "they profit off it."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Elephant in the Room' Is Senate Democrats Blocking Their Own Party's Agenda

"The argument that we need to make here," the New York Democrat said of bipartisanship's dead end, "is that it's worth going it alone if we can do more for working people in this country."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


On Climate and Covid-19 Emergencies, G7 Judged a 'Colossal Failure' for All the World to See

"Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


NYC Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams Rebuked for 'Dangerous' 400-Students-to-1-Teacher Theory

"Defunding schools to the point that we have a 400:1 student-to-teacher ratio so we can bankroll another huge expansion in an already-multibillion dollar police budget," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, "is how you build a school-to-prison pipeline."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, "will go directly into the pockets" of Big Pharma shareholders.

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Darnella Frazier Receives Pulitzer Special Citation 'for Courageously Recording the Murder of George Floyd'

"Without Darnella, Derek Chauvin never would have been tried and George Floyd would have been blamed by the state for his own death."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·