A top fundraiser and friend of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) has a history of sharing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel conspiracies from the same Facebook account he used to interact with the congresswoman.
Maher Abdel-qader, a Palestinian activist who fundraised and organized campaign events for Tlaib, shared the content in a "Palestinian American Congress" Facebook group, the Daily Caller first reported Monday. The page is filled with anti-Semitic content, Holocaust denial, and suggestions that Israelis are committing a Holocaust of their own.
Abdel-qader added Tlaib to the group in February 2018, shortly after news broke she intended to run for Congress. Tlaib remained a member as of Tuesday.
Two accounts with Abdel-qader's name are the sole moderators of the group. In it, Abdel-qader himself refers to the "Israeli ISIS" and claims Israel has "concentration camps." In January 2018, he shared videos claiming Ashkenazi Jews, predominantly from Europe, "are not true Jews." The post he shared accuses the Jews in Israel of "Identity theft."
In July 2017, Abdel-qader claimed members of the United States government, including Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) were foreign agents acting for Israel. He wrote:
Our US Congress is full of ass-kissing Israeli defenders. A few of them are actually unregistered foreign agents. Ben Cardin is one of them. He is convincing the rest of the lowlifes in Congress to throw away our rights to free speech, and kowtow to the illegal so-called "state" of "Israel."
The post echoes the anti-Semitic trope of Israeli control over the United States. Tlaib received backlash for similar claims when she suggested earlier this month that Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and others were not working in the interest of the United States. In a tweet, she said senators who support S.1, a piece of pro-Israel legislation, act as if they "represent" a country other than the United States.
They forgot what country they represent. This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away. https://t.co/KkmqjR58ZM
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) January 7, 2019
Rubio slammed the comment, calling it "a typical anti-Semitic line." Tlaib later clarified that the comment was directed at the senators, not Jews. The suggestion is considered anti-Semitic because it implies Jewish control, not because it is directed at Jews.
Tlaib's ties with Abdel-qader run far beyond parroting similar anti-Semitic canards. He appears to frequently attend events with the first-term congresswoman, raise money for her, and maintain a personal relationship.
Facebook photographs place Abdel-qader with Tlaib at events in Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Washington, D.C. In addition, admission cost $500 and host status cost $5,000.
In a post written in Arabic, Abdel-qader claimed to have raised over $200,000 for Tlaib's campaign. If true, this would account for one in every eight dollars raised during Tlaib's campaign.
Abdel-qader posted last March about receiving a public award from Tlaib's campaign in recognition of his support. The award, shown in a picture he posted of himself and Tlaib, has his name etched on it.
After Tlaib won election to Congress, her campaign organized a welcome "celebration & fundraiser" in Washington. The invitation, which lists Abdel-qader as a host, was shared on Tlaib's Facebook account.
During a victory party after clinching the Democratic nomination, Tlaib was photographed embracing her mother while draped in a Palestinian flag. Abdel-qader stands immediately behind Tlaib's mother.
Tlaib writes glowingly about Abdel-qader in several posts from her personal account. In one, Tlaib names Abdel-qader among her family and friends who "inspire me to stay true to my roots and who I am."
In another, Tlaib shares a photograph of Abdel-qader speaking to a crowd at a New Jersey fundraiser, her face prominently displayed in front, behind, and beside him.
Tlaib thanks Abdel-qader by name in another post, expressing it "meant so much" to have him and another activist stand by her side greeting voters.
Another photograph from Tlaib's account shows Abdel-qader seated directly opposite the congresswoman during a campaign event.
The Daily Caller's reporting prompted questions for Democratic lawmakers Tuesday. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) told reporters he did not believe Tlaib was anti-Semitic. "I don’t know that I draw the conclusion," he said. "I don’t accept that."
House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) said he had not seen the report, calling Tlaib a "thoughtful colleague." He insisted the Democratic majority in the House was "strongly pro-Israel." Tlaib has endorsed boycotts against Israel, which Jeffries opposes.
Tlaib's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.