RICHMOND, Va. — A member of the state's Commission of Immigration resigned Thursday, a few hours after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was told about online videos showing the appointee condemning Israel and advocating "the jihad way."
Kaine issued a statement saying he had accepted the resignation of Dr. Esam S. Omeish. He said Omeish offered to resign because he didn't want anything to distract the work of the commission.
In a video that appears on YouTube, Omeish, who is president of the Muslim American Society and chief of the division of general surgery at INOVA Alexandria Hospital, is shown at an August 2006 rally in Washington denouncing an invasion of Lebanon by the "Israeli war machine."
Omeish also accuses Israel of genocide and massacres against Palestinians and said the "Israeli agenda" controls Congress.
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 Thursday morning 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.
Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall said the governor tried to call Omeish afterward and also watched the videos. In the statement released later Thursday, Kaine said he was concerned by what he heard on the videos.
Mahdi Bray, a spokesman for the MAS, said Omeish was not 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.
***NOTE FROM IPT: Another video of Omeish congratulating Palestinians who gave their lives "for the sake of Allah" can be found here.