Before and during his recent campaign for office, incoming Republican Rep. George Santos of Long Island, N.Y., claimed to be “half-Jewish.” He also claimed to be a “Latino Jew.” He said that his maternal grandfather was originally from Ukraine and fled to Brazil to escape the Nazis. He also said that his grandparents converted to Catholicism during the rise of Nazism in Belgium after fleeing Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. “It’s a story of survival, of tenacity, of grit, as we like to call it,” he said, and he told prospective voters how proud he was of it.
On Monday, as Santos backtracked on numerous other claims he has made regarding his educational background, employment history and involvement in charitable work, he clarified his connection to Judaism: He now says that he is Jew-ish. And he says, “I never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic.” But since he believed that his maternal family had some kind of a Jewish connection, he felt that he was entitled to say he is ”Jew-ish.” And he can’t understand why anyone would think such a claim is worthy of criticism.
Monday’s concessions by Santos were prompted by numerous reports — bolstered by detailed analyses from several genealogists and historians — that Santos’ campaign claims of Jewish lineage were not true. They also say he fabricated his family’s history with the Nazis. He now admits that he lied about several aspects of his own history.
In Santos’ fabricated resume, he graduated Baruch College in New York City, he was a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” (having worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs) and achieved success in his family-owned real estate business and leadership in a successful animal-rescue charity. None of that was true. And to make matters worse, other records indicate that during the time Santos claimed to have attended Baruch College, he was with his mother in Brazil, where he confessed to involvement in financial fraud and was later charged in a case that prosecutors say is unresolved.
Santos is a colorful figure. He says of himself: “I’m a free thinker. I’m Latino. I’m gay. I’m Jewish. I do what I want. I don’t fit in the boxes that they want me to fit in.” But when voters went to the polls in November to elect a representative in New York’s redrawn 3rd Congressional District, which is home to a sizeable Jewish population, they elected a man who is clearly not the person he repeatedly claimed to be.
Santos’ victory helped deliver a narrow Republican majority in the House, and his success was celebrated as “the full embodiment of the American dream.” Santos now admits to being a fraud. His American dream has become an expanding nightmare. He will do himself and the voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District a service by resigning from office.