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Investigation uncovers Israel-based group behind bigoted Facebook smear campaign aimed at US Muslim congresswomen

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“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.”

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.

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“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.

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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.

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

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“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.”

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WATCH: John Oliver exposes Trump’s lies about vote-by-mail — and the Fox News ‘cult’ claiming the election is already ‘rigged’

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's main story Sunday refuted President Donald Trump's latest crusade against vote-by-mail. Trump announced on Twitter that the more people who vote in an election, the more Republicans tend to lose. So, he wants fewer people to have access to the ballot in November, even if people are too scared to go out during the coronavirus crisis.

Oliver called out Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO), who outright told people not to vote if they were too afraid to vote in the local elections next week.

"Well, hold on there," Oliver interjected. "Voting is a right. It has to be easy to understand and accessible to anyone."

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John Oliver rips Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for urging ‘order’ from people of color — but never demanding it of police

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John Oliver opened his Sunday show, shredding Fox News host Tucker Carlson for uring "order" among protesters, but refusing to urge "order" to police and "wannabe police" who can't stop killing people.

It's a lot, Oliver explained. "How these protests are a response to a legacy of police misconduct, both in Minneapolis and the nation at large and how that misconduct is, itself, built on a legacy of white supremacy that prioritizes the comfort of white Americans over the safety of people of color."

While some of it is complicated, Oliver conceded, most of it is "all too clear."

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Cars set on fire blocks from White House as DC protests turn violent

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The Washington, D.C. protests turned violent as the city approached the 11 p.m. curfew the mayor instituted Sunday afternoon.

The policy of D.C. police is that when they are attacked, they advance forward. So, when fireworks were fired, the line of officers began pushing the protesters back further from the White House. Behind the line of police officers also stand a line of National Guard troops that President Donald Trump has demanded stand watch in the city.

Lights that normally shine on the White House have also been turned off, reporters revealed.

https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/1267291138655956992

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