Virginia Governor Tim Kaine Accepts Resignation of Controversial Appointee
RICHMOND, Va. – A controversial leader of a U.S. Muslim group resigned from a Virginia state board hours after Gov. Tim Kaine learned during a radio call-in show about incendiary comments the appointee made about Israel, Islam and U.S. foreign policy.
Dr. Esam Omeish, who is a top surgeon at a Washington, D.C., area hospital, also is seen in videos found on YouTube.com that show him advocating "the jihad way," decrying the Israeli invasion last year of Lebanon, and calling for President Bush's impeachment.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Kaine said he had accepted Omeish's resignation from the state Commission on Immigration, which only met for the first time on Tuesday.
"Dr. Omeish is a respected physician and community leader, yet I have been made aware of certain statements he4 has made which concern me," Kaine said. "Dr. Omeish indicated that he did not want this controversy to distract from the important work of the Commission."
Omeish, who president of the Muslim American Society, .appears in one video of an Aug. 12, 2006, rally in Washington near the White House where he denounces Israel's invasion of Lebanon and the "Israeli war machine." He also accused Israel of genocide and massacres against Palestinians and said the "Israeli agenda" controls Congress.
• Click here to see the video of the August 2006 rally.
And in a video of C-SPAN coverage of the Sept. 15, 2007, antiwar rally, Omeish appears, calling for Bush's impeachment.
"We must prosecute those who are responsible for this war. Impeach Bush today!" he screams to a boisterous crowd. "Let us cleanse our State Department, our Congress, our Pentagon of those who have driven America into this colossal mistake."
• Click here to see the video of Omeish at the Sept. 2007 rally.
Omeish is chief of the division of general surgery at INOVA Alexandria Hospital.
In a separate, undated video, Omeish tells a crowd of Washington-area Muslims, "...you have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land."
That video was credited to Investigative Project, a Washington-based organization that investigates radical Islamic organizations.
A caller to Kaine's program on WRVA radio in Richmond asked the governor about the Omeish appointment and the video.
"That is news to me, what you say, and it's something we will check out," Kaine told the caller, identified on the air only by the name Kent.
Neither Kaine nor The Associated Press was immediately able to contact Omeish. Mahdi Bray, a spokesman for the MAS, said Omeish was performing surgery and not immediately available for comment.
Omeish was among 10 appointments Kaine made on Aug. 2 to a 20-member panel created this year by the General Assembly to assess the benefits and costs of immigration and the effects on federal immigration policies on the state. The commission met in Richmond for the first time Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.