Earlier this month, Israeli-born Hallandale Beach Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub called Rashida Tlaib, one of America's first two Muslim congresswomen, a "Hamas-loving anti-Semite" who might someday "become a martyr and blow up Capitol Hill.” Lima-Taub was then widely condemned, even by the Anti-Defamation League.
But the commissioner won't back down.
In doing so, Lima-Taub promoted a "news network" that was cofounded by a woman who reportedly helped spread the Pizzagate conspiracy. Halsey News also hosted racist, anti-Muslim columns by a Florida public schoolteacher who was fired after the Huffington Post revealed she was hosting a white supremacist podcast under a pseudonym.
Halsey News features articles calling DACA recipients criminals and Muslims terrorists. A few sample headlines: "I’ll Cede A 'Rape Exception,' But Abortion Itself Is Akin To Rape;" "Gillum And Snipes Need To Get Over Their Blackness, We Are" and "You Know Damn Well That Islam Is Not Peaceful."
The Halsey network also includes a site called D.I.R.E., or Documenting Islamic Radicalism Everywhere, which purports to "speak the truth about the real danger facing our societies."
To Lazarow, Lima-Taub's posts linking to the bigotry-filled "news network" are just more proof she's unfit to hold public office.
"Commissioner Lima-Taub's hateful statements have dragged our city into the national spotlight," Lazarow, who has sponsored a resolution to censure her colleague, said in a statement. "As she continues to double down, it is unfortunately unsurprising that she would promote a racist and Islamophobic website that has ties to a conspiracy theorist."
By Wednesday morning, Lima-Taub had distanced herself from the site. In an email to New Times, she wrote that she doesn't have time to vet each publication because she's been taking precautions due to threats on her life.
"I DO NOT condone hate of any racial or religious group, and definitely DO NOT think all Muslims are terrorists," she wrote.
Her initial rant against Tlaib, who earned the ire of conservatives by calling President Donald Trump a "motherfucker" while pushing for his impeachment, came via a January 8 Facebook post. She shared a petition demanding the Michigan congresswoman's removal from office, writing, “Proudly signed. A Hamas-loving anti-Semite has NO place in government! She is a danger and [I] would not put it past her to become a martyr and blow up Capitol Hill.”
She then refused to apologize,
Lima-Taub, a Jewish woman who was born in Israel; and Tlaib, an American woman of Palestinian descent, obviously disagree about Israel's policies and that country's right to exist. But it's absolute nonsense to imply that Tlaib supports violence or terrorism. Lima-Taub misleadingly conflates criticism of the Israeli state with criticism of Jewish people; though Tlaib obviously has issues with the state of Israel, there is zero merit to claims she's acting out of hatred for Jews. Tlaib was born to two Palestinian immigrants: In 2008, she told the Detroit Free Press that her grandfather was shot by Israeli soldiers during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
Lima-Taub's comments had the rare effect of uniting the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Anti-Defamation League, which condemned them as Islamophobic and inappropriate. Sen. Marco Rubio, who pushed a crackdown on those who boycott Israeli products and services to protest Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, also spoke out against her.
But over at halseynews.com, the Hallandale Beach commissioner is being praised as "one of the few genuine American heroes during this dark age in America’s history." A little research shows this is not a surprising take for the radical site.
Launched in 2017, the Halsey News Network is co-owned by Stefanie MacWilliams, a 20-something Canadian woman who wrote about Pizzagate on the conservative site Planet Free Will. Even after the insane conspiracy theory — which claimed Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring out of a pizza place — led a man to burst into the restaurant toting a gun, MacWilliams told the Toronto Star she didn't regret writing about it, noting, “It’s honestly really grown our audience."
Halsey News made news itself last March after the Huffington Post wrote that Dayanna Volitich, a teacher at Crystal River Middle School, was secretly hosting a white supremacist podcast under the name "Tiana Dalichov” and "bragging about teaching her views in a public school."
Volitich shared her views in columns for Halsey News. They appear to have been deleted, but the website Heavy reported last year that in one of them, she wrote: “Islam does not belong here. It is an ideology built upon the premise of violence. A religion whose followers are taught in the Qu’ran itself to kill nonbelievers and follow the example of a hedonistic cult leader desperate for power and blood. It clashes with everything this country stands for and puts Western civilization at risk. Speaking the truth about Islam is not bigotry. Being critical of Islam is not racist or Islamophobic."
Another contributor to the site, Ximena Barreto, grabbed headlines last summer after she was appointed to a position at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. News reports quickly revealed she had spread the Seth Rich conspiracy theory (about the murder of a Democratic National Committee employee) and made anti-Muslim comments.
Now Halsey News is enthusiastically championing Lima-Taub. In one of several posts celebrating the commissioner, writer Alex Roberts calls her his friend and, weirdly, describes her as "the kind of woman that every man dreams they will some day meet." He praises her for having "the courage to say what a lot of us already believe."
Later in the post, he writes, "The moment that someone announces they are a Muslim, that person can not be trusted. Am I saying that they are going to kill you?
Then he urges readers to show up today for a rally in support of Lima-Taub, which he says will happen at Hallandale Beach City Hall at 4 p.m. — 15 minutes before multiple civil rights groups plan to host a press conference demanding an apology from the commissioner.
Alt-right provocateur Laura Loomer, known for stunts like chaining herself to Twitter HQ and jumping the fence at Nancy Pelosi's house, has said she'll be there and encouraged her followers to come and show "we won't let terrorists win or intimidate us."
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Lima-Taub thanked her for the show of support.
Update: Looks like the Islamophobic Hallandale Beach commissioner recently thanked Laura Loomer for giving her a shout-out pic.twitter.com/r4c61ZVCxw— Jerry Iannelli (@jerryiannelli) January 23, 2019
Update: After this story was published, Lima-Taub distanced herself from Halsey News, saying she doesn't condone hate of any racial or religious group and doesn't think all Muslims are terrorists. The full text of her statement is here.
I am not sure how I became aware of Halsey News originally. I am too busy taking measures and precautions with authorities due to legitimate threats on my life, to be able to vet each publications. Once I was made aware of what the publication espouses I immediately removed the link off of my personal social media page. However, on my official Commissioner Facebook page I am unable to do so- as there are many comments on there which I am not at liberty to delete as to not infringe on the rights of people to express themselves. I DO NOT condone hate of any racial or religious group, and definitely DO NOT think all Muslims are terrorists.
Now let’s see how fair and balanced you are in including my entire response to you. I doubt you will be. - Anabelle.