RISING STAR: Ethiopian-Israeli Candidate Could Fill Contested Congressional Seat - The Jewish Voice
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Saturday, January 28, 2023

RISING STAR: Ethiopian-Israeli Candidate Could Fill Contested Congressional Seat

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By United with Israel Staff

As a child, Mazi Melesa Pilip arrived in the Jewish state during Operation Solomon, an Israeli military operation in 1991 that secretly airlifted 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to Israel on 35 planes in a day and a half.

After marrying her American husband, Pilip has made her home in Long Island, New York, stepping into the political arena to advocate for her community and address antisemitism in the local school district.

Pilip appears about to step into her highest profile role yet.

Controversy continues to swirl around a politician named George Santos, who won a seat in the House of Representatives, but is being called upon to resign for lying about his credentials and falsely claiming to be Jewish.

While fellow New York Republican Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Nick Langworthy, Nick LaLota and Brandon Williams have all demanded Santos resign , he had yet to do so as of January 22, 2023.

Pilip has been floated as a potential candidate if Santos resigns, a step that may be inevitable as legal challenges mount.

“I’m not going to lie to you, people are definitely asking me to run,” Pilip recently told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) during an interview conducted amid her pre-Shabbat errands on Friday afternoon this week.

Pilip added, “I am a strong believer, if you see something’s not working well for your community, or for yourself, you have to be involved. You can’t just complain from outside.”

According to the JTA report, Pilip’s comments were related both to her experience as an Ethiopian Jewish immigrant to Israel, and as a Jewish parent whose children have experienced antisemitism in Nassau County schools.

While Pilip currently serves in the Nassau County legislature, she said she would certainly consider heeding the call if the GOP chairman in her area, Joseph Cairo, tapped her to run.

Among Pilip’s supporters is the mayor of Great Neck, New York, Pedram Bal, a Persian Jew who hailed Pilip’s past victories.

“An Orthodox Jewish woman, a religious refugee from Ethiopia is elected as a Republican to the Nassau County legislature!” Bal declared when Pilip took up her current post.

Pilip has been a fighter her whole life, working to overcome obstacles as a young immigrant in Israel, and then serving in the IDF’s paratroop division as a young adult.

After putting her life on the line for the Jewish state, Pilip was personally offended by the false claims of Jewish heritage made by Santos, a candidate for whom she campaigned tirelessly.

Among Santos’ debunked claims were his statements about being the descendant of Holocaust survivors. That particular lie hit home for Pilip, whose husband, an immigrant from Ukraine, has parents that are actual Holocaust survivors.

Whether Pilip will be tapped to replace Santos remains to be seen.

What was clear when the Long Island mother spoke with JTA at the end of the week was her eager anticipation for Shabbat, and the quality time it affords her with her spouse and children.

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