Virginia school official taking heat for saying Battle of Iwo Jima set record for ‘human evil’
A controversial Virginia school-board member is taking heat for saying the Battle of Iwo Jima, a major US victory during World War II, “unfortunately happened” — and set a record for “human evil.”
Abrar Omeish made the stunning statements during a Thursday meeting of the Fairfax County School Board while discussing the US’s recent Japanese Day of Remembrance, which commemorates the 1942 internment of Japanese-Americans by the US.
“Something for us to certainly reflect on as we learn our history and think about it,” she said of the annual event. “The days when, you know, Iwo Jima unfortunately happened and set a record for really, what I hate to say, human evil is capable of.”
Omeish also invoked Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will be observed in April to honor the memory of the 6 million Jews and other victims killed by the Nazis.
A video clip of her remarks was posted on Twitter by the Fairfax County Parents Association, which referred to them as a “(mis?)statement.
“Not sure what Ms. Omeish was saying here, is she condemning the brave US Marines that invaded Iwo Jima? Perhaps she meant to say something else,” the group said.
Some critics on Twitter called for her to be removed.
The five-week Battle of Iwo Jima took place in 1945 between the Marines and the Imperial Army of Japan for control of airfields on the tiny island about 660 miles south of Tokyo.
In what’s widely considered the bloodiest fighting of World War II, about 7,000 Marines died and 20,000 were wounded while killing all but 216 of the 18,000 Japanese soldiers stationed there.
The eventual US victory on the island was immortalized in a photo that shows six Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on Mount Suribachi near the start of the carnage.
Controversy is nothing new to the Fairfax school district.
It is one of three in the state where officials delayed announcing the winners of National Merit awards, with one parent alleging she was told it was done because administrators didn’t want to “hurt” the feelings of other students.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has condemned the situation, and state Attorney General Jason Miyares launched a civil-rights investigation of the district last month.
Last year, Omeish — who boasts of being the youngest woman elected to public office in Virginia — also sparked outrage by voting against a resolution for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“As a nation, we remember a jarring event, no doubt, but we choose to forget — as this resolution does — the fear, the ostracization and the collective blame felt by Arab-Americans, American Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus and all brown or other individuals that have been mistaken for Muslims since that day over the past two decades,” she said at the time. “Why are we forgetting the experience of these families? Their traumas?”
Omeish’s father, Dr. Esam Omeish, is a founding board member and former vice president of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Vir., which was formerly led by Anwar Al-Awlaki, who later became a high-profile radical and was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers were also revealed to have prayed at the mosque before committing their heinous deeds, with the federal 9-11 Commission concluding it “may not have been coincidental.”
Abrar Omeish’s remarks were first reported Friday by the Washington Free Beacon, which said she responded to an inquiry with an emailed statement that didn’t explain her remarks about the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“There is no reason to warp what was said and reading more into it merely reflects biases forced in by the listener,” she reportedly said.
In an email to The Post, Abrar Omeish noted that the executive order for the internment of Japanese-Americans was dated Feb. 19, 1942, three years to the day before the start of the Battle of Iwo Jima.
She also shared what she said were the words of a “well-known conservative constituent” who “captured my sentiment effectively.”
“The juxtaposition of these two events, the first the beginning of one of the most glorious battles in US history, and the second, one of the worst acts of evil in US history, is indeed an irony worth contemplating as we explore the glories and sins of US history,” that statement said.
Abrar Omeish added, “Indeed, I have only the utmost respect and admiration for all those who sacrifice their lives and livelihoods in service of others every day.”