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Pro-Palestinian school board member opposes honoring Hamas attack victims: 'Ignores the root of the violence'

A Fairfax County school board member scolded the board during a recent meeting for not including pro-Palestine sentiment during a statement commemorating recent victims of Hamas.

A pro-Palestinian Fairfax County school board member scolded fellow board members Thursday for giving a statement and holding a moment of silence for the victims of Hamas’ recent deadly attack against Israel.

During the meeting, Abrar Omeish rebuked the board for their "sneak attack" of inserting a moment of silence for victims of Saturday's surprise terrorist attack and Israel’s ensuing war against Hamas into the meeting’s agenda. 

She also criticized members for using language in the brief commemoration that didn’t "represent all children." She noted she had sought a "statement that represented everybody’s views," implying frustration that the statement did not speak to the Palestinian struggle in any way.

Omeish appeared to object to board member Laura Jane Cohen’s speech in honor of the victims that she gave after the Pledge of Allegiance and prior to the moment of silence and a performance of the national anthem by West Springfield high school orchestra students. 


Cohen addressed the board, saying, "Many of our board members would like to share our care and concern for the Israeli victims, their loved ones, and our Jewish community who are suffering from Saturday’s vicious terrorist attack by Hamas. We further extend our care and concern for all civilians in Israel, Gaza and the surrounding areas who may be impacted by the ensuing war."

"Additionally, we wish to reaffirm that antisemitism in all its forms has no place in our schools, and it will not be tolerated," she said.

After the students’ musical performance, the meeting was set to go ahead as scheduled, however Omeish interrupted with a request to speak.

Airing her grievances with how the memorial was conducted, she said, "I wasn’t expecting what seemed to be a sneak attack after we had discussed making sure we represent all children in the ways that we speak and when we speak. So it’s disappointing that my colleagues would do that behind my back after conversations that I had with them in saying that the statement represents everybody’s views."

She then described how she would have liked the tragedy to have been framed at the meeting. 

"Many are thinking about the incredible devastation and human suffering unfolding today in Israel and Palestine. And we mourn the loss of hundreds of innocent civilians killed and homes destroyed this week alone and the thousands over the decades," Omeish said.


Omeish continued by declaring that seeing Israel’s retaliation against an aggressor as a black and white issue is insufficient, stating, "It might seem simple – aggressors attacking families in a state seeking vengeance – but we often sympathize with and humanize the side that we relate to and the side that looks more like us, or that our biases guide us towards."

"But doing so ignores the root of the violence," she said. Appearing to lessen the moral culpability of Hamas in its terrorism on Saturday, Omeish added, "Centuries of human history teach us that escalations happen when problems are ignored, realities are denied, and voices are censored. When one narrative dominates from the world stage all the way to our classrooms." 

She then uttered the social justice quote, "No justice, no peace," and slammed Israel for building an apartheid state and murdering Palestinians.

"When we’re unwilling to call out what global human rights organizations have called an apartheid regime of occupation that has been violating international agreements year after year, and killing thousands of innocent civilians over decades, we are lying to our children." Omeish said.

"When we don’t give space to hear the Palestinian narrative, we buy into a rhetoric that negates not only the humanness of Palestinians but justifies the indiscriminate retaliation against population."

Omeish has promoted pro-Palestinian stances in the past. While speaking at a September 2019 American Muslims for Palestine fundraiser before she was put on the school board, she pledged to integrate a pro-Palestinian agenda into classroom books and curriculum, and seemed to suggest that was a motivation for her school board run.

In May 2021, Omeish tweeted that Israel "desecrates the Holy Land" and engages in "apartheid and colonization" as its civilian areas were bombarded with Hamas rockets.

The board member also once refused to vote on a motion to commemorate Sept. 11 victims and called the Battle of Iwo Jima "unfortunate" and "evil."

The Fairfax County school board did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

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