Israeli-American, Orthodox IDF veteran to seek George Santos’s seat

The Republican party of Long Island, New York, has nominated Mazi Melesa Philip, an Orthodox Jewish, Ethiopian-Israeli mother of seven who currently serves in the New York state legislature, to run for the seat in Congress recently vacated by George Santos, according to a report from the New York Times on Thursday.

The seat’s former occupant was ejected from the House on December 1, dogged by two federal indictments for fraud and revelations that most of the life story on which he had campaigned was a lie. He was only the sixth representative in history to be expelled from Congress. 

Philip, 44, served as a paratrooper in the IDF, just a few years after immigrating to Israel from Ethiopia at age 12 as part of Operation Solomon. After her army service, Philip studied at the University of Haifa, earning a degree in occupational therapy and serving as Chairwoman of the Ethiopian Student Union.

There, she met her husband, Adalbert Pilip, a Ukrainian-American Jew studying medicine at the Technion. 

Pilip speaking out against antisemitism. (credit: COURTESY / OFFICE OF MAZI MELESA PILIP)

Philip will face off against Tom Suozzi, who held seat before Santos

She returned with him to the United States, where she became active in speaking about Israel for Jewish federations and other Jewish groups. Philip, who also holds a degree in diplomacy and security from Tel Aviv University, told JTA last year that her interest in politics was revived when her oldest son, preparing for his bar mitzvah, reported antisemitic comments he’d received from a classmate at his Great Neck public school. 

According to the New York Times, the party is expected to announce Philip as their pick for the seat at a rally on Friday in the town of Massapequa. She will face off against Tom Suozzi, the moderate Democrat who occupied the seta before George Santos, leaving it open as he retired to mount an unsuccessful bid for governor against incumbent Kathy Hochul. 





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