Virginia School Board Member Calls Iwo Jima 'Evil' and 'Unfortunate'

Abrar Omeish speaks at a memorial service (Getty Images)
February 24, 2023

A member of the Fairfax County, Va., school board raised eyebrows during a Thursday board meeting when she said Iwo Jima, a major U.S. military victory against the Japanese in World War II, was "evil" and should not have happened.

Abrar Omeish, who was elected to the school board in 2019, said Iwo Jima "unfortunately happened" and "set a record for really what, I hate to say, human evil is capable of."

The remarks are not the first time Omeish has come under scrutiny. The school board member has a record of anti-Israel rhetoric and has candidly acknowledged anti-Asian bias in the district's admissions policy.

Omeish in her Thursday comments made reference to the Day of Remembrance, a Feb. 19 day of observance for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II that occurs on the same calendar day as the first U.S. landings on the island of Iwo Jima in 1945.

"Just a few days ago was Japanese Day of Remembrance," Omeish said. "Something for us to certainly reflect on … 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."

When asked by the Washington Free Beacon to clarify why she called Iwo Jima an example of human evil, Omeish in an emailed statement backtracked from her framing of the battle.

"There is no reason to warp what was said and reading more into it merely reflects biases forced in by the listener," Omeish said. She said Iwo Jima "happens to fall on the same day" as the 1942 executive order issued by then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt to incarcerate Japanese Americans and noted that the order remained in effect "even after Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, three years later." She did not explain why in her comments at the meeting she said Iwo Jima was evil and "unfortunately happened."

The battle of Iwo Jima saw the United States capture the heavily defended island from Japan in one of the most famous engagements of the war. In the bloody weeks-long battle, nearly 7,000 Americans were killed. The U.S. victory allowed for American fighter planes to take off from the island and escort bombers attacking mainland Japan.

Omeish has attracted controversy for her comments in the past. The Free Beacon in May 2021 reported on a series of anti-Israel social media posts the school board member made, in which she called Israel an "apartheid" state that "kills Palestinians." In private text messages revealed through a federal lawsuit, Omeish also acknowledged anti-Asian bias in the admissions process for the district's elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

"I mean there has been an anti asian feel underlying some of this, hate to say it lol," Omeish texted a fellow board member in fall of 2020. "They're discriminated against in this process too."