May 19, 2021
JCRC Rescinds Honor to Fairfax County School Board Member Abrar Omeish
The JCRC has cancelled its decision to honor at its annual meeting to be held tomorrow, May 20, Ms. Abrar Omeish, one of the five members of the Fairfax County School Board who partnered with the JCRC to champion faith equity during the Board’s recent deliberations on the 2021-2022 calendar.
After several months working with local interfaith leaders to make the 2021-2022 academic year calendar more equitable for people of faith minorities, the JCRC was grateful to the “Fairfax Five” for courageously working together to benefit all our communities.
Ms. Omeish broke that unity by Tweeting a one-sided, inaccurate, and hateful statement that smeared Israel, defamed Israelis, and disenfranchised the thousands of Jewish families in her district. The language Ms. Omeish used in this Tweet is deeply offensive and inflammatory to all who support Israel.
Ms. 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 take no pleasure in being forced to cancel the honor we had planned to present to Ms. Omeish. However, her actions run completely contrary to our mission of building interfaith respect, cooperation, allyship and friendship. Moreover, they undermine the very values upon which the FCPS Faith Equity campaign is based: the obligation to ensure that all FCPS students, regardless of their identities and affiliations, benefit from a nurturing learning environment where they feel respected and safe from harassment and hatred.
During conversations between JCRC representatives and Ms. Omeish after the Tweet was posted, the JCRC conveyed the hurt experienced by the Jewish community and offered Ms. 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.
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.
The JCRC deeply values its relationships with our Muslim friends and neighbors. We may not agree on all issues, but we are committed to engaging with empathy, discretion, and sensitivity. Ms. Omeish has already done damage to that sacred work; it will be up to us, and to other interfaith leaders, to protect what we have built and find our way back to a place of mutual compassion and healing.
Ronald A. Paul, MD
Executive Director, JCRC