The irony is so thick that it is bloody sickening. It’s not too often that claiming to be Jewish will gain you a whole lot of public capital in a world that has an inverse track record on that score. Even today, acts of anti-Semitism are at an all-time high.
But a very small man named George Santos, a compulsive liar, has pretended to be Jewish for the last two years to win New York’s 3rd Congressional District — which is 20% Jewish. Even more disgusting, Santos lied about being the “grandson of Holocaust refugees.”
This pathetic little man lied about a whole spectrum of things on his resume, from the college he never attended to the companies he was never employed by to the nonprofit he never founded — he even uses four different permutations of his own names depending on the situation.
Last night, in a live interview with Tulsi Gabbard on FOX News, Santos (R-NY) finally slinked out of the shadows to answer questions. Gabbard hit him hard, repeatedly:
“If I were one of those in the New York’s third district right now, now that the election is over and finding out all of these lies that you’ve told, not just one little lie, or one little embellishment, these are blatant lies. My question is: Do you have no shame?”
Santos didn’t miss a beat — he was ready to cough up a pre-prepared sound bite blaming the Democratic Party. It was painfully lame. Embarrassingly. He also said during the interview:
“I’m not a fraud. I’m not a fake. I didn’t materialize from thin air… I’m not a facade, I’m not a persona…I’ve made some mistakes. I own up to them.”
First of all, you are a fake. And a fraud and a facade. That’s the whole point.
Yes, embellishments happen in political campaigns. I’ve run a few of them myself, and I’ve written plenty of bios and speeches for candidates. As well as for me. Rule #1: Don’t put anything down that you can’t confidently back up and explain. Simply and truthfully.
None of Santos’s answers pass the smell test for his lies. This is because, as Gabbard says, they are “blatant lies.”
Second of all, Santos saying “I own up to my mistakes” is not owning up to his mistakes. It might have been, had he volunteered all of this information at some point prior to the election. But he didn’t. He got called on the carpet afterwards. Admitting your guilt after you’ve been caught lacks a certain sincerity, to put it mildly.
If you truly want to take responsibility, resign as Congressman-Elect before you’re sworn in next week. That would be “owning up” to your mistakes.
Now, back to the most sickening and personally hurtful parts of this tiny man’s unabashed mendacity. Santos’s campaign told The Forward that he is a “proud American Jew.” He also misrepresented his being Jewish to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which announced yesterday that he is no longer welcome.
Then Santos lied about the lie. Two days ago, he told the New York Post: “I never claimed to be Jewish” and that he is “clearly Catholic.”
This is one sick puppy.
But the most infuriating thing of all, certainly to me and to many other Jews, is the set of false claims about his grandparents having fled the Holocaust. Santos said that his mother’s parents “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII.”
Lie. The Forward and multiple genealogy reports have debunked this garbage. It’s a load of horseshit… About the Holocaust.
Being Jewish in the twenty-first century can mean different things to each of the 15 million Jews around the world. Due to history, Jewishness is in some ways today a mix of religion, ethnicity and nationality.
For many of us, and I am one, there is an undeniable element of perpetual survival — in the face of overwhelming odds — that binds us together. Think of any team or club or movement you’ve been a part of, and the fraternal nature you felt with your fellow mates in those efforts. You’ve got each other’s back.
It’s a poor analogy, because there is no good analogy when it comes to the Holocaust. But now imagine that less than 80 years ago, there was a systematic mass murder operation set up to shoot, gas, work and starve your grandparents to death. And then to incinerate them. And that before these mass murderers were stopped, they succeeded in snuffing out the lives — and any descendants thereof — of 6 million people.
Now imagine that a compulsive liar makes his own decision to use that mass murder to gain advantage in a political campaign. It is horrifyingly insulting to the millions of victims and survivors of the Holocaust. And by extension, to every single Jewish person who cares deeply about both our persecution and survival as a people.
This grain of sand of a man will not exit the stage before he gets sworn in next week. Narcissists don’t acknowledge being narcissists, much less make any sacrifice based on principle. New York voters will have to wait two years before they get a shot at sending him packing.
I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. I think about that stuff more so over Yom Kippur. But if there’s one thing that I will be resolved to doing in 2023, it’s keeping an eye on this soulless liar, and calling him out publicly when I hear more horseshit.
Shine a light on the lies. In a world full of dishonesty, it’s the uncovering of truths — and sharing of them — that is still totally within our control.