FCPS board member’s tweet about Palestinian, Israeli conflict topic of discussion at meeting

A social media post commenting on violence between Palestinians and Israelis in the Gaza Strip became a topic of discussion at the Fairfax County School Board meeting Thursday.

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In a tweet made on May 13, board member Abrar Omeish wrote in part:

"Eid Mubarak! Congrats on 30 days of worship! 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. May justice + truth prevail. #EidWithPalestine."

Omeish followed that tweet with a post the next that read:

"War is terrible for everyone. I hear those hurting. I'm here for each of you. People of all faiths deserve Holy Land peace. Ensuring justice & honoring humanity of all remain urgent. I look ahead to robust & empathetic engagement with Jewish leaders. Let's build together."

During a portion of the meeting when citizens were allowed to participate in the discussion, some defended Omeish's words while others criticized her and called for her resignation.

Kheira Bekkadja, a senior at Edison High School, spoke first and said "As a student, I stand in solidarity with fellow board member Abrar Omeish as she is a representative for all student in Fairfax County" said "She is progressive, courageous and a champion for us all. Her factual statement did not alienate any religious group but rather it was a starting point in us having more courageous conversations."

Dawn Smith, another speaker who identified herself as a Loudoun County social worker spoke and said, "By using your FCPS affiliated platform to attack the ethnicity of a significant group of students you've shown that you cannot be trusted to ethically perform your official duties on the school board."

Jennifer Katz who identified herself as a resident of Fairfax County, said "Abrar Omeish must resign or be censured as a member of the Fairfax County School Board based on her social media posting in a public forum on May 13, 2021."

"This posting violates regulations established by this board as well as violating established rules of conduct applicable to school board members," Katz continued. "She clearly showed her strong bias and contempt toward a country who many FCPS students and their parents have dual citizenship in and strongly identify with."

Some at the meeting held signs that read, 'FCPS Arab Students Matter,' 'Abrar' and 'Stop Racism. Stop Hate. Stop Critical Race Theory.'

Fairfax County Public School released the following statement:

"FCPS is committed to providing a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for all students, families, and staff.  These traumatic events are complex in nature and may impact our community especially our Jewish and Muslim students and families as well as our students and families who have immigrated from the region. We recognize that our students whom have ties to the middle east are hurting and fearful of what is happening abroad and locally with increased acts of aggression against our Jewish and Muslim Communities. Fairfax County Public School is committed to ensuring that all students and staff are treated with respect and dignity and provided a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn and thrive. In this, and every moment, it is important, that we reject Islamophobia, anti-semitism, and xenophobia. It is our responsibility to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and humanity in our schools."