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Long Island Jewish Republicans call on Santos to step down ‘immediately’

The freshman congressman from New York told reporters on Capitol Hill that he won’t resign

More than a dozen Republican elected officials in Nassau County, including several Jewish ones, called on Rep. George Santos Wednesday to submit his resignation over a web of lies about his background and false assertions about his finances. 

“George Santos’ campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies and fabrication,” Joseph Cairo Jr., chair of the Nassau County Republican Committee, said at a news conference. “In particular, his fabrications went too far, many groups were hurt — specifically, I look at those families who were touched by the horrors of the Holocaust.”

Among the lies Santos told during and prior to his campaign to represent his Long Island district, he claimed to have Jewish grandparents who fled anti-Jewish persecution during World War II. Santos also called himself a “proud American Jew” in a position paper he shared with Jewish and pro-Israel groups during the campaign. Santos has no known Jewish heritage.

Cairo called for Santos’ “immediate resignation,” saying that the congressman is no longer welcomed at county Republican headquarters for meetings or any other events. “We do not consider him one of our congresspeople,” he said.

Nassau County Republican elected officials on Jan. 11, 2023. Photo by Screenshot/Facebook

Santos rejected Wednesday the call for him to resign. “I will not,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County’s first Jewish executive, called Santos a “stain on the House of Representatives” who also deceived a large population in his district “who identify themselves legitimately as being Jewish” with his lie about his grandparents.

Blakeman said Santos’s lies about the Holocaust are “beyond the pale” and an affront to the many Holocaust survivors and families of Holocaust victims in Nassau County, which borders New York City. “It is simply tragic, outrageous and disgusting,” he said. 

Mazi Melesa Pilip, a first-term Nassau County legislator, said she is “very disappointed” with Santos and called on him to resign in the interest of the district. Pilip, an Ethiopian Jewish woman, noted that she campaigned for him and put her trust in him. 

Pilip unseated a four-term Democratic legislator in the heavily Democratic North Hempstead district amid a red tide that swept over Long Island last year. She is considered a favorite to run for the seat if Santos steps down or as the Republican nominee in 2024. 

State Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said as a representative of the Five Towns and its Orthodox community she was particularly offended by Santos’ falsehoods about his religion. Those lies were “exceptionally offensive,” she said.

Blakeman suggested that Santos, given his propensity to lie, may need some professional help. But he pledged not to work with him as long as he’s in office. 

Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo reported Wednesday that Toby Gotesman, a Jewish artist from Florida whose paintings are mostly Holocaust-themed, worked for the Santos campaign as a fundraising consultant. She told the publication that she suspects Santos took from her the idea to claim his grandparents were Holocaust survivors. “He knew I was a Holocaust painter. He knew it very well,” she said. “How do you sit down with a very famous Holocaust artist and not say a word about your own family?”

This post was updated.

 

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