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Seriously, Why Is George Santos So Obsessed With Jews?

George Santos smiling behind a podium.

A few weeks ago, Republican congressman George Santos was caught in one of his many revolting lies: after falsely claiming that his grandparents were Ukrainian Jews who fled the Holocaust, Santos tried to walk the claim back by saying that he hadn’t called himself Jewish, but “Jew-ish.” It turns out that’s not the only time Santos lied about being Jewish.

Last week, a former roommate of Santos’s, Gregory Morey-Parker, revealed that Santos used a Jewish name while fundraising for his fake animal rescue charity. The same charity that scammed a homeless military vet out of $3,000 for his dying service dog, no less.

According to Morey-Parker, Santos used a Jewish name for his fundraising because he thought “the Jews will give more if you’re a Jew.” How savvy. Totally not based on antisemitic stereotypes at all.

Santos’s actions stem from two very old antisemitic myths: the myth that Jews are richer than other groups, and the myth that Jews are an insular group who only support each other. If you’re an antisemite who sees Jews as yet another demographic to exploit as hard as you possibly can, then it only makes sense to try to milk us for as much of our sweet goblin gold as possible.

This revelation sheds more light on Santos’s lie about having Jewish grandparents. Although we may never know exactly what was going through his head when he made up that story, the logic seems to be that Jewish voters will support a Jewish candidate more than a non-Jewish candidate. Now that we know Santos thinks he can get Jewish money if he pretends to be Jewish, one wonders if he specifically had Jewish donors in mind when he decided to lie.

Lying about being Jewish is also part of a growing trend of people claiming to be members of a group in order to exploit that group’s identity for material gain. Santos’s lies put him in the company of Rachel Dolezal, who infamously claimed to be Black and became president of the Spokane NAACP chapter, and Andrea Smith, who became a prominent Native studies scholar by lying about being Cherokee.

Unfortunately, Santos hasn’t experienced any consequences for his lies yet. He’s still in office, with no plans to resign—and there may be even more lies that still haven’t come to light.

(featured image: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Julia Glassman (she/her) lives in Los Angeles, where she reads tarot and watches Marvel movies. You can check out more of her writing at linktr.ee/juliaglassman, or find her on Twitter at @juliaglassman.