On Oct. 12, Abrar Omeish, an at-large member on Fairfax County’s school board, objected to calling for a moment of silence for the innocent victims of the Hamas massacre in Israel. Omeish asserted that she did not support the dominance of one side’s narrative.
A suburb of Washington, D.C., Fairfax County’s school district is the eighth largest in the nation, with a $3.5 billion budget and 181,000 enrolled students. Like many other school board members across the country, Omeish uses her position at the dais to grandstand about issues that have little or nothing to do with our children’s public education.
Omeish stated that by proposing the moment of silence, her colleagues on the school board had engaged in a “sneak attack” against her. “We often sympathize with and humanize the side that … our biases guide us toward, but doing so obscures the root of the violence,” she said, adding that the adage, “No justice, no peace” is relevant for the situation in Israel.
Many of her colleagues on the school board left the dais as she was speaking, likely as a protest to her remarks. Despite some turbulence along the way, the 12 Democrat-endorsed Fairfax County school board members maintained a tenuous, unholy alliance, in which they voted almost unanimously on every single dysfunctional political initiative for the last four years.
Their alliance has withstood Omeish’s previous demonstrations of anti-Americanism on the school board. In June 2021, as a school board member speaking at a high school graduation ceremony, she told the graduates they should remember their “jihad” because they were about to enter a world of “racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, [and] white supremacy.” A few months later, she opposed a motion to honor the victims of 9/11. In Feb. 2023, Omeish said that the battle of Iwo Jima “unfortunately happened” and “set a record for really what, I hate to say, human evil is capable of.”
Fairfax County’s parents waited for an explanation of Omeish’s anti-American Iwo Jima remark, but there was not one. We thought at this point her Democrat-endorsed colleagues on the school board would condemn her remarks, but they also were silent.
On Feb. 24, 2023, I emailed Omeish demanding an explanation for her offensive comments. My great-uncle had fought and was wounded in Iwo Jima. Both of my grandfathers, my father, my brother, and my husband are veterans.
Omeish responded that the only reason I had problems with her remarks was because of my biases, a comment she often throws at white members of the community. She wrote, “There is no reason to warp what was said and reading more into it merely reflects biases forced in by the listener.”
According to Omeish — who never seems to take responsibility for her actions, has no children of her own, and, as of recently, still lived with her parents — Fairfax community members and their biases are generally the problem. She is so obsessed with the issue of inherent biases, that last year, she proposed a bias incident reporting system for the school district, which subsequently passed.
Omeish did not respond to my additional questions, but instead issued a public statement in which she victimized herself. She claimed that people who take issue with her statement on Iwo Jima believe that “Muslim somehow implies anti-American.”
Despite all of her antics, her Democrat-endorsed colleagues on the school board said virtually nothing over the last four years. It truly has been a case of tribal partisan loyalty at all costs, also much like at the national level. With the silent protest where a few of the school board members exited the dais during the last meeting, her refusal to honor the victims of the Israel massacre on Oct. 7 might be the breaking point of the woke alliance on Fairfax County’s school board.
Strangely, up until this point, Omeish has always shown her hand, and her fellow Democrat-endorsed colleagues seem to have been mostly supportive. In 2019, four years before she objected to the moment of silence for the slaughtered civilians in Israel, Omeish campaigned at a fundraiser for the American Muslims for Palestine. There, she informed the audience that as a member of the school board, she would change the narrative on Palestinians, meanwhile referring to Israel as an “apartheid nation.”
She proudly boasted that she would achieve her ends in the system that educates our children, with the district’s multibillion-dollar budget. In other words, she explicitly bragged about her intentions to politically indoctrinate our children in public schools with regard to the situation in Israel. Her remarks at the last school board meeting are abhorrent, but not particularly surprising given what she has already said and done.
What is more surprising is that Fairfax County’s Democratic Party endorsed her and all of the other candidates who sat silently around her at the dais for the last four years. The case of Abrar Omeish is a cautionary tale. Voters should think about the inappropriateness of integrating politics in public schools, and what happens when we disagree on issues outside of the fundamentals when we do.
Omeish’s story is also a warning for voters to be informed about their local candidates and not simply march to the orders of a political party’s sample ballot.