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Santos invites Democrat who exaggerated his Jewish observance as guest to the State of the Union

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Republican Rep. George Santos, who has been caught in a web of lies about his Jewish background, invited a Jewish Democrat from New York who volunteered as a first responder on 9/11 as his guest to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. 

Michael Weinstock, a former Brooklyn prosecutor, was a volunteer firefighter on Sept. 11, 2001, after two planes hit the World Trade Center. In 2020, Weinstock ran in the Democratic primary, challenging then-Rep. Tom Suozzi, for the House district that Santos now represents. 

Members of Congress get one extra ticket to bring a guest to the State of the Union. Weinstock said he accepted the invitation to bring attention to firefighters with neuropathy. 

Santos has come under fire for lying about having Jewish grandparents who fled persecution during World War II and calling himself a “proud American Jew” during the campaign. He reportedly posted offensive remarks about the Holocaust and made jokes about Jewish stereotypes before he ran for Congress. He also fabricated a story that his mother, Fatima A.C.H. Devolder, was in the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

A recent poll showed that 94 of Jewish voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District think their freshman representative should resign from Congress. 

Both Santos and Weinstock exploited – and then sought to clarify – their claim to be Jewish during their congressional campaigns. Santos said in recent interviews that he had only joked about being “Jew-ish,” after calling himself a “proud American Jew.” Weinstock claimed he was “plenty Jewish” after one of his opponents, Melanie D’Arrigo, claimed he wasn’t observant enough. 

Weinstock said that D’Arrigo, who challenged Weinstock’s petition signatures in court, illegally served him with the court papers on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. “I’m not a perfect Jew, but I am observant,” Weinstock told the Albany Supreme Court judge countering his opponent’s attorney, Arthur Schwartz, who suggested that the candidate is not a “super observant Jew,” and therefore state law does not apply to him. His official campaign slogan was, “Kvetching isn’t enough.” 

Santos, who ran for the first time against Suozzi in the general election that year, later became friends with Weinstock, after exchanging Instagram messages about comments Santos made on the trail for his second campaign. Santos visited him in the summer of 2021 after hearing that he had broken his foot and Sept. 11, 2021, marking the 20th anniversary of the deadly terror attacks. Santos posted a photo of Weinstock on his campaign’s Instagram account. “I can’t thank Michael enough for his brave actions and for having been a first responder,” Santos wrote. “Michael also happens to be a Democrat and former congressional candidate in 2020 who believes in serving his country.”

In a recent interview on The Howard Stern Show, the host asked Weinstock whether Santos did “any of the Jewish prayers over you?”

Weinstock didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment about how he feels about Santos’ lies.  

The post Santos invites Democrat who exaggerated his Jewish observance as guest to the State of the Union appeared first on The Forward.