George Santos lied about being Jewish - why are Jewish orgs silent? - opinion

I am very frustrated with the silence of local and national Jewish leaders regarding the Republican congressman-elect’s lies.

 US REPRESENTATIVE-Elect George Santos appears in an undated still image from a political campaign video. (photo credit: George Santos campaign/Reuters)
US REPRESENTATIVE-Elect George Santos appears in an undated still image from a political campaign video.
(photo credit: George Santos campaign/Reuters)

George Santos has become a household name globally. The Republican congressman-elect, to be sworn in today, flipped a Democratic-leaning district, New York’s Third Congressional District, encompassing large swaths of Queens and Long Island’s Nassau County.

His notoriety has little to do with his politics but rather with his fake past and resume. He has lied about most details of his life, including his education, employment history, properties, Jewish heritage and most revolting, being the grandson of Holocaust survivors.

As an Israeli American intern for the campaign of Robert Zimmerman, George Santos’s opponent in NY-03, I am very frustrated with the silence of local and national Jewish leaders regarding the Republican congressman-elect’s lies.

A bird flies by the United States Capitol building in Washington, US, March 17, 2022.   (credit: REUTERS/Emily Elconin/File Photo)A bird flies by the United States Capitol building in Washington, US, March 17, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/Emily Elconin/File Photo)

Geroge Santos intentionally and strategically lied about being Jewish

According to a national profile conducted by Brandeis University, NY-03 was 20.5% Jewish in 2020, with the third largest Jewish population out of any district in the United States. As such, Santos’s debunked claims about his Jewish ancestry aren’t embellishments; he strategically lied and used a Jewish identity and Jewish suffering for political gain.

His lie about his Jewish-American ancestry wasn’t just a line in his biography or a bullet point on a flyer, he actively promoted his Jewish identity and heritage. In his campaign launch video, he states, “I’ve seen how socialism destroys people’s lives because my grandparents survived the Holocaust.”

Santos was involved and welcomed by Jewish communities such as the one in Great Neck. He even met with Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau at an event held by Chabad of Great Neck. A day before The New York Times bombshell article, the Republican Jewish Coalition welcomed him for its annual Hanukkah lighting.

Santos clearly identified the Jewish community as one he could exploit for his own political benefit. He also appropriated Jewish suffering to quell criticism against him. On June 2, 2020, Santos tweeted, “Wow, you pulled the Nazi card on the grandson of Holocaust refugees!”

“Wow, you pulled the Nazi card on the grandson of Holocaust refugees!”

George Santos, not actually the grandson of Holocaust refugees

To its credit, the Republican Jewish Coalition has condemned his actions; however, key Jewish organizations, PACs and community leaders who have an active role in promoting the well-being of Jewish communities and fighting antisemitism have yet to speak out.

Those organizations and PACs who have power and status must demand action from the Republican Party, and not only for the sake of Jewish communities. Fraudsters and politicians, of the likes of George Santos, who lie to voters impede the values of free and fair elections in our democratic system.

As a teenager involved in a political campaign for the first time and having knocked on 2,473 doors throughout NY-03, the revelation of Santos’s lies about his entire past and his getting away with it has left my fellow interns and I am feeling dismayed at the lack of consequences for Santos. As a Jew, I am disappointed by the lack of outcry from organizations that represent American Jews and who are supposed to ensure that our Jewish voice is heard in politics.

The writer interned for the Robert Zimmerman campaign. Originally from Modi’in, he is currently a high school student in Plainview, New York.