9/11 History Lesson Changes Spark Controversy

An individual holding a position on the school board in Fairfax, Virginia, provided suggestions for curriculum resources that teachers can use in their lesson plans.

These recommendations discouraged the usage of certain phrases, such as “Islamic terrorists,” “jihadists,” and “radical Islamic terror,” when discussing the September 11 attacks.

Controversy over 9/11 curriculum guide discouraging terrorism definition

The curriculum guide recommended by Abrar Omeish for teachers to use when discussing 9/11 history advised against framing the lessons as an opportunity to explore terrorism or a clash between two cultures or societies.

It also stated there is a great deal of disagreement about what terrorism means and it is frequently used in a biased way.

In addition, the guide suggested that teachers wear cultural items from Muslim countries to create a “safe space” and show support for their students, such as a scarf.

To meet the standard of being “culturally responsive,” the curriculum guide recommended that teachers concentrate on “the effects of 9/11 on communities of color, including Muslim Americans.”

Additionally, the guide recommended that teachers address “Islamophobia at both the structural level (national, state, and local policy enactments) and the individual level (individual policies outside of government).”

The curriculum guide further advised that teachers should highlight “responses of resilience, but also the depression and anxiety” of Muslim communities related to the 9/11 attacks.

During the voting on a resolution to honor the victims of 9/11, Omeish expressed her opposition, stating that the omission of certain realities could cause harm.

She argued discussing such a traumatic event without sufficient cultural competence could further worsen the situation. She emphasized the importance of including these components in broader anti-racist and anti-bias work.

An accusation was made against Omeish by the Zionist Organization of America on anti-Semitism in Fairfax, resulting in her being named in a complaint.

Anti-Israel Tweet, Controversial Statement About WWII

Omeish was also under fire for her tweet in May 2021, in which she accused Israel of “desecrating the Holy Land” and engaging in “apartheid and colonization” while Hamas rockets hit civilian areas.

Virginia’s 11th Congressional District GOP Chairman, Michael Ginsberg, criticized her comments, stating that anyone who believes Israel is an apartheid state is either ignorant of the history of apartheid in South Africa or is intentionally slandering Israel.

Some residents of Fairfax County demanded that the School Board take action against Omeish for her remarks. During a recent school board meeting, Abrar Omeish called the Battle of Iwo Jima “unfortunate” and “evil,” just a few days after its 78th anniversary.

The battle was a significant victory for the U.S. during World War II, and nearly 7,000 American service members were killed while trying to capture the island from Japan.

This statement by Omeish sparked controversy, with some questioning her understanding of history and others criticizing her for disrespecting the memory of those who fought and died in the battle.