Who Am I? response to recent media coverage

Dear friend,
Greetings of peace and blessings,
please read in full, this is personal and is meant for you

I am sure the recent events you witnessed all over the news have raised some questions or curiosities in your mind. Rest assured that the Dr. Esam Omeish you have known is the same Esam Omeish you have heard about in bits and pieces in the news. May be you have seen some of the issues or matters about which I am passionate and some other matters that help define who I am as an individual, a family man, a community leader, a faith advocate and a passionate social-issues activist. I do not expect everybody to agree with some of my views especially in the political arena, but my Islamic beliefs and values are at the very core of what is being questioned and undermined and clarifying that,  matters a great deal to me and my family.

Although I realize that a fair and an acceptable way may be to say that it is within my first amendment’s rights to have own beliefs and ideas, I want to go even further in explaining what you have all heard and seen because I believe that makes up for a more genuine and solid mutual understanding and friendship and elevates the dialogue to the much needed sentiments of tolerance and acceptance. I genuinely value and cherish everybody’s friendship and mutual respect and I wish for nothing to undermine that in the least bit.

I was recently appointed by Governor Kaine to a commission on immigration, but soon thereafter I along with the governor decided to hand in my resignation, because of the controversy that erupted and out of concern that the controversy would derail the very important work of the commission, a commission I deeply care for and wish it utmost success. Several allegations were raised about me,  the  non-profit educational organization I lead (the Muslim American Society (MAS)), the mosque I worship at and in which board I am a member, and the beliefs and values I hold. The allegations and smear campaigns have been relentless and for many years, especially against the Muslim community in Northern Virginia and nationwide.

Videos were shown from past activities and antiwar rallies. In them you will find

-My passion against the War in Iraq and wars in general , I am a strong believer of the peace movement. These sentiments are shared by the majority of Americans.

-I am very critical of the current administration and its mistakes especially in this disastrous war in Iraq, something I share of over 70% of my fellow Americans.

-I am very critical of Israel’s conduct in Middle East politics and  critical with our government’s unbalanced stance on the whole issue since it is not conducive to a just lasting peace in the region where I am a firm believer in the rights of Palestinians to their own state as much as I am a firm believer in the security and safety of all parties involved including the Jewish people of the state of Israel. My recent harsh criticism of Israel and the war in Lebanon is no way less harsh than even the words of  then Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan and many other world leaders and our State department officials on similar matters.

-I harbor no ill-feelings toward Jewish people. In fact, I continue and have been instrumental in advancing interfaith dialogue through our organization especially with the Jewish community and other faith communities. We may not see eye to eye in the matter of Israel, but Jewish Americans are my fellow co-citizens and people who cherish divine guidance which I revere and wish to learn to understand and appreciate even more. I cherish living in a neighborhood that is distinguished in being heavily populated by Jewish families and I am utterly indebted to the wonderful family atmosphere we have because of them. Some of my children’s friends are Jewish and my family enjoys their visits to our home on multiple occasions. I have grown to understand the value and place of the creation of the state of Israel in the hearts and minds of Jewish people worldwide and that continues to help me revisit the situation in the Middle East where I grew up.

-I am a devout Muslim and I do not in any shape or form condone violence, extremism or terrorism. I have unequivocally in numerous occasions stood against violence, terrorism and extremism.  In fact, in my work as a leader of MAS, I work everyday to promote moderation , tolerance and civic engagement especially with the growing Muslim community which is largely immigrant, under constant pressure and suspicion and in need to develop and integrate in the greater society and contribute positively to its betterment. Being a doctor, I am in the business of saving and bettering life everyday, anything different is against the very core of who I am.

-Any usage of misinterpreted words such as Jihad is grossly misrepresented. Jihad in Arabic and Islamic text mean exerting one’s efforts in all spheres of life and even when they are used in a direct reference to armed struggle they continue to reference the Palestinian resistance against Israeli troops who are denying them freedom and basic human rights. It is not a call of attacks on Israeli civilians and it is certainly not a call for attacks against Americans or any civilians for that matter. Whether it is ever legitimate for Palestinians to use arms against Israeli troops in response to Israeli occupation is a matter of International law and is not for me to decide.

At the end of the day, world politics aside, I am a passionate advocate for the inclusion, tolerance and diversity of our American society. Its very prosperity and continued march towards greatness hinge very heavily in our ability to bring the very best of each of its components and while at the same time blend peacefully everybody in a celebrated mosaic of what is best about each tradition, immigrant group, or ethnic background. I love this country so dearly, it is the new home, it is my children’s home, I believe in its inherent goodness, I will spare no effort to contribute to its prosperity and I will defend its greatness with everything I can in a heart beat. I invite dialogue and exchange of ideas, nothing is too personal, it is far more important to me for you to understand and appreciate me than to just accept me and knowing each other better will make us better Americans.
God Bless

Dr Esam Omeish

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