At a school board meeting for Fairfax County Public Schools on February 23, 2023, board member Abrar Omeish appeared to call the battle and bombing of Iwo Jima in World War II a “human evil.” She made the comment in reference to the Japanese Day of Remembrance. This day is specifically in honor and for remembrance of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in the United States in 1942. She stated in the board meeting:
There’s also a lot of history in February. You know, a number of community members reached out to me just a few days ago was Japanese Day of Remembrance. Something for us to certainly reflect on as we learn our history and think about it. The days when, you know, Iwo Jima unfortunately happened and set a record for really what – hate to say – human evil is capable of. So that’s something just to remember, especially actually in advance of Holocaust Remembrance Day which is coming up and just so many moments for us to think about what human beings are capable of and how we can turn the tide and turn the trajectory to make sure that we are building better for the next generation.
In an email response to a concerned community member obtained by Parents Defending Education, Abrar Omeish stated: “There is no reason to warp what was said and reading more into it merely reflects biases forced in by the listener.” She then added:
Iwo Jima happens to fall on the same day as Executive Order 9066, which was issued 80 years ago now and today marks Japanese Day of Remembrance, recognized by the White House a few days ago. Japanese Day of Remembrance is a painful moment that commemorates when our government decided to detain some 120,000 innocent, unassociated Japanese Americans by kidnapping them from their homes and forcing them into incarceration on the mere basis of their identities.
Abrar Omeish then stated: “Japanese Remembrance Day reminds us of the evil human beings are capable of, the diverse emotions and complex meanings February 19th has for a variety of members of our community, and the importance of recognizing each of these varied realities in forging a narrative of US, not a narrative of some—as we commit to building better for the next generation and a future that honors all.”