Omar says Facebook refusing to take down ‘hate speech’ ad

Bonnie Cash

Facebook is refusing to take down an ad that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s staff is calling inaccurate and disparaging to Muslims, according to the Minnesota Democrat’s office.

Omar’s office has requested that Facebook remove an ad paid for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that features Omar’s face on Hamas rockets and says, “When Israel Targets Hamas Rep. Omar calls it an ‘act of terrorism.’”

In a tweet last week, Omar stated, “Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism.”

The tweet went on to say: “Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It’s unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid.” 

Omar’s office says the ad badly misstates Omar’s tweet, and that it incites people in a way that endangers Omar and other Muslims.

“Given the number of threats of death and violence the Congresswoman receives on a near-daily basis, it’s not just irresponsible – its incitement. Facebook should immediately remove these ads which blatantly peddle both anti-Muslim hate speech and disinformation, and AIPAC should apologize,” Omar’s deputy communications director, Isi Baehr-Breen, said in a statement.  

Facebook determined the ad did not violate company policies, according to The Washington Post, which first reported on Omar’s complaints.

Facebook does reject ads that its fact-checking partners determine are false and has told Omar’s office the ad would be eligible for a fact check, according to the Post. 

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment, but confirmed the Post’s reporting is accurate.

AIPAC defended the ad as “fair and accurate” in a statement.

“The ad concerning Representative Omar is completely fair and accurate,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann said in a statement. “It is not a personal attack but highlights her outrageous characterization of Israel’s efforts at self defense as ‘terrorism.’ Israel targets Hamas terrorists, not civilians.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) both criticized the ad. 

Pelosi told reporters she didn’t agree with Omar’s position but said it was disappointing to see a “deeply cynical” and “inflammatory” ad distorting what Omar said, according to the Post.

“It’s dangerous, plain and simple,” Baehr-Breen said in the statement. 

The ad, part of a three-part series that also features Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), potentially reached more than 1 million people, according to Facebook’s ad library. 

Omar’s office first reached out to Facebook on Tuesday after viewing the ad, the Post reported. 



Tags AIPAC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez American Israel Public Affairs Committee Bernie Sanders Facebook Facebook Ilhan Omar Israel Israel-Gaza conflict Nancy Pelosi Rashida Tlaib Steny Hoyer

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