A Jewish group on Wednesday rescinded an award it was set to give to a Northern Virginia school board member who last week tweeted that Israel is a colonizing state that “desecrates the Holy Land” and “kills Palestinians.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) said that it had offered Abrar Omeish “an opportunity to meaningfully amend her remarks. Unfortunately, she has continued to stoke the flames of division and acrimony: She has not taken down her tweet, she has not taken affirmative steps to try to stem the vitriolic, hateful rhetoric on social media triggered by her remarks, and she seems uninterested in being a voice for authentic empathy, grace, and healing.”
The Daily Wire reported Tuesday that days before she was set to receive an award at the JCRC’s annual event “honoring” her for “faith equity,” Omeish tweeted, “Hurts my heart to celebrate while Israel kills Palestinians & desecrates the Holy Land right now. Apartheid & colonization were wrong yesterday and will be today, here and there.”
Omeish is an at-large school board representative in Fairfax County. Her constituency includes more than 1.1 million people. Her father was born in Libya.
JCRC said in a statement:
Omeish fails to understand that as a public official, she cannot distinguish her personal statements from her official ones. It is irresponsible of her to use her public platform to publicly advance controversial political views that target and marginalize Jewish students and their families and divide our community. Her actions constituted a dereliction of her duty and they compromise the entire Board. She should be held accountable. …
We cannot in good conscience offer this celebratory award that would have recognized and elevated months of work and partnership because she has spent the last week tearing those efforts down.
It said Omeish was one of “the five members of the Fairfax County School Board who partnered with the JCRC to champion faith equity.”
Among the four who will still be honored Thursday is Karl Frisch, who in November gave an hour-long interview to the American Humanist Association, a group for agnostics. The video claimed that Fairfax County, a diverse and liberal D.C. suburb, was “targeted by religious extremists.”
“The religious nuts come out of the woodwork,” he said. “Fairfax has a history of being an epicenter for right-wing religious fanaticism.”
“I do not want those in positions of government authority ignoring science or pushing their religious beliefs on others who they have purview over.”
Frisch does not appear to have issued any statement condemning Omeish.
Join me in wishing my School Board colleague @AbrarOmeish a very #HappyBirthday! pic.twitter.com/UusdA0ck2A
— Karl Frisch (@KarlFrisch) January 16, 2020
Despite JCRC’s warning about the risks of “controversial” positions coming from people of authority over children, in December, Newsweek reported, the school board’s Governance Committee met to discuss replacing a requirement that teachers “remain impartial” on controversial issues with a directive permitting them to “take a clear position” on “matters of contemporary controversy.”
The committee is chaired by Frisch and counts Omeish as a member.
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