Following national reports that Republican Congressman-elect George Santos may have lied about being a descendant of Holocaust survivors, Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan (I-Woodbury) and members of the Jewish community in New York’s 3rd congressional district joined together to denounce the alleged falsehoods.
In his online biography, Santos claims that his grandparents fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, and then in Belgium during World War II. The news outlet Forward investigated these claims and found that Santos’ grandparents were born in Brazil and seem to be Catholic, according to an article on the news site published on Wednesday.
“After multiple days of continued breaking news regarding Congressman-elect George Santos’ fraudulent past, it is now being nationally reported that he lied regarding his grandparents fleeing the Holocaust,” Lafazan said. “Exploiting the murder of 6 million Jews to win an election is arguably one of his most egregious acts yet. He must resign his election to the United States Congress immediately.”
Lafazan called it antisemitic to lie about having ancestors who survived the Holocaust. He then asked local Jewish leaders and community members to share the impact that the potential lies would have on the community.
“It is not just that it exploits the memory of the murdered and those who survived – that’s true. It’s not that it’s a cynical ploy to curry favor with so many of the Jewish people in our community – also likely true,” said Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz, of The Community Synagogue in Sands Point. “But what is most troubling about this false claim is that it knowingly and callously misrepresents the truth … When you have no truth, all the rest of the worst of human behaviors become possible.”
Also speaking were Rabbi Deborah Bravo, of Makon NY in Bethpage; Izzy Weisfelner, the son of Holocaust survivors; Brad Schwartz, of the Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities, and youth leaders Shayna Sakhai, Jonathan Rudes, and Tyler Gray.
The news conference was the third this week that Lafazan has held addressing accusations that Santos fabricated much of his resume and stories of his past. He and others are calling on Santos to resign and for the federal government to conduct an investigation of possible crimes related to the misinformation he may have spread about himself on the campaign trail.
Santos has yet to attempt to refute any of the claims, including whether or not he actually attended the colleges or worked at the companies that he said he did. In a Tweet on Thursday, he said, “I have my story to tell and it will be told next week. I want to assure everyone that I will address your questions and that I remain committed to deliver the results I campaigned on; Public safety, Inflation, Education & more.”