The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) sent a letter to the superintendent and school board of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) last week, documenting years of antisemitism in the district.
Parents contacted the ZOA after FCPS failed to rebuke and punish a school board member, Abrar Omeish, for using her school board position for personal and partisan gain, in violation of FCPS’s Code of Conduct.
In May 2021 — as Israel defended its people from the thousands of rockets being launched from Gaza into Israel by the US-designated terrorist group Hamas, whose charter calls for the murder of Jews and Israel’s destruction — Ms. Omeish used her official position to condemn and make false and inflammatory accusations against Israel.
On her Facebook and Twitter pages — both of which trumpet her position on the school board and prominently bear the school board’s logo — Ms. Omeish falsely accused Israel of “desecrating the Holy Land,” “apartheid,” and “colonization.”
She also accused Israel of killing Palestinians, omitting the important fact that Israel was acting defensively, as any country would if it were being bombarded by deadly rockets launched by a terrorist group deliberately targeting innocent civilians.
Ms. Omeish’s social media posts incited others to express their Jew- and Israel-hatred on social media, dividing and harming the community she is obligated to protect. Yet Ms. Omeish refused to remove her social media posts, and district officials refused to condemn and punish her.
Parents report that FCPS’s silence and inaction are part of a pattern of failing to address years of antisemitism in the school district and insensitivity to Jewish concerns.
School officials tolerated such problems as the following:
- Jewish students being given the “Heil Hitler” salute in school hallways and in class;
- Jewish students being subjected to “jokes” about money and the Holocaust;
- Swastikas defacing bathrooms and desks, which school officials sometimes failed to remove and did not publicly condemn;
- A Jewish student being referred to by other students as “Jew-boy” and other antisemitic slurs;
- Jewish students not being accommodated for their religious observance of the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and penalized for observing them;
- Teachers and students paying only lip service to Holocaust education, and teachers ignorantly and insensitively implementing Holocaust education projects that were offensive and trivialized the worst genocide in human history.
In its letter to district officials, the ZOA recommended several remedial steps and asked for a response from district officials.
Urging FCPS to take the necessary corrective measures, we stated, “We were horrified to learn about what Jewish students have been enduring for years in one of the largest school districts in the US, which ironically prides itself on its diversity and inclusiveness. Thank you to Jewish parents in the district who came forward to report longstanding official indifference to antisemitism in the schools and a callousness to Jewish concerns.”
As we wrote, “These parents deserve schools that show, by words and action, that they have zero tolerance for all forms of antisemitism, including when it relates to Israel, and that they respect Jewish students’ religious observance. It’s time for district officials to live up to their moral and legal obligation to ensure that their schools are truly welcoming, respectful and safe for Jewish students.”
You can read the ZOA’s letter here.
This article was authored by Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton Klein and Director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, Susan Tuchman, Esq.