Rep. George Santos fakes Jewish heritage, lies harmful


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Representative George Santos for New York’s 3rd congressional district “embellished” his resume, from a fake brain tumor to false statements of employment to a fabricated Jewish family history.

Abby Hyken

Representative George Santos for New York’s 3rd congressional district has a resume full of lies. From a fake brain tumor to false statements of employment to a fabricated Jewish family history, Santos has painted himself as a picture-perfect congressman. Even after all of his falsehoods were revealed, he has received no consequences. Using Judaism to his benefit perpetuates Jewish stereotypes and creates harmful perceptions all over the US. 

Santos first mentioned his “Jewish heritage” in his 2021 campaign launch video. According to the Forward, a Jewish newspaper, Santos used images of Nazi death camps in his campaign video and said he “despised” socialism because his “grandparents survived the Holocaust.” He later appeared on Fox News and said, “My grandparents escaped socialism, they’ve escaped communism and the Holocaust.”

In another Fox News interview in February 2022, Santos said, “For a lot of people who are descendants of World War II refugees, or survivors of the Holocaust, a lot of names and paperwork were changed in the name of survival. So I don’t carry the family last name — that would’ve been Zabrovsky.”

His claims of Jewish ancestry are completely unfounded and do nothing but weaponize Judaism for his campaign. His lies were recently uncovered in an investigation by the New York Times. Santos’ grandparents are actually from Brazil, with a Catholic background, and most importantly, they never had to flee from Nazis. 

When confronted about his blatant lies, Santos told the New York Post, “I never claimed to be Jewish,” Santos said. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”

Santos used his claims of Judaism to gain the support of the moderate Jewish voters within the 26 percent of U.S. Jews that identify with the Republican party. While most U.S. Jews support the Democratic party, those that do support Republicans support Donald Trump and his hard-right views on Israel. Santos used these ideas to his advantage and spewed the exact kind of policies that Republican Jews would want to hear. 

Santos claiming to be Jewish is harmful enough, but saying his grandparents were Holocaust survivors is a completely different story. Six million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust and the number of Jewish people around the world has still not returned to pre-Holocaust levels

Holocaust denial, and overall lack of education, is a pressing problem that the U.S. faces. A 2020 study by Claims Conference found 63 percent of American Millennials and Gen Z did not know six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust This horrifying fact shows just how little the U.S. does to educate people about the Holocaust. Furthermore, 56 percent of U.S. Millennial and Gen Z populations were unable to identify Auschwitz-Birkenau, and there was virtually no awareness of concentration camps and ghettos overall. 

Santos’ lies further fuel alarming attitudes about Jewish people. In a recent study by the Anti-Defamation League, 20 percent of U.S. adults say Jews have “too much power” in the United States; 21 percent agree that Jews “don’t care about anyone other than themselves” and 53 percent say that Jews will go out of their way to hire other Jews. 

The U.S. needs to work on reducing harmful anti-Semitic rhetoric and increasing education and awareness about the Holocaust. People like Santos who make false claims about Judaism are perpetuating negative views about Jewish people, especially when given a huge platform in the political world. 

Santos has recently stepped down from his House assignments on the Small Business and Science Committees amid an FBI investigation into his alleged crimes, including stealing thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe for a Navy veteran. While this is a step in the right direction, it is still not enough. 

When explaining this decision Santos cited the multiple ongoing investigations into his background, saying, “…I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared.” This shows that Santos does not think what he has done warrants any consequences, as he says his decision to step down is only temporary. 

Judaism should not be used as something to flaunt, especially when six million Jews were persecuted for it and so many more suffer from anti-semitism today. Santos needs to face permanent consequences for his lies of a made-up heritage, along with the rest of the “embellishments” on his resume.