NOTE: this story is based on Hebrew media profiles published in Israel. The content has not been reported outside Israel. Tikun Olam regularly breaks news no one else reports. It offers you critical information that keeps you best-informed on the status of US-Israel relations. Click here to donate in support of Tikun Olam’s groundbreaking journalism.
Mazi Melesa Pilip, 44, an Israeli citizen of Ethiopian descent, is a registered Democrat running on the GOP ballot in the Long Island district formerly represented by fabulist, George Santos. She was born in Ethiopia, and at age 12, her family was airlifted to Israel during Operation Solomon.
She served in the elite IDF paratroop unit as a gunsmith. Most media outlets are describing her services as being a parachutist. However, she served in a support role maintaining weaponry, rather than a combat role.
Israeli media profile her (prematurely) as “on the way to the House of Representatives.” She is the first Israeli citizen and IDF veteran to run for a Congressional seat.
She met her husband, Adelbert Pilip, while he studied medicine at the Technion. After he completed his specialty in cardiology, she emigrated with him to the US in 2005. They live in the wealthy Long Island suburb of Great Neck.
She calls herself an “Israeli Zionist who was raised on love for the country.” She made clear in her first interview with an Israeli media outlet, that the main reason she is running is to tell Israel’s story in a political institution rampant with anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel (her perspective). She offers a standard campaign biography boasting of her humble roots and finer personal qualities. In this case, they focus almost entirely on her patriotism and loyalty to…Israel.
The 10/7 attack plays a central role in her campaign. When she first leared of it, she immediately announced to her husband and seven children:
“I’m putting on my uniform and returning to Israel and volunteering in my [IDF] unit.”
According to her campaign puffery, though her husband sought to dissuade her, asking “what about the children”–it was her sisters living in Israel who persuaded her that her that she offered greater value as a pro-Israel advocate in the US than in Israel. They told her:
“We need you there…in the US. We need for hasbara. You’ll explain to the American public what we are fighting here and how difficult this battle is. Your role there [in the US] is more important.
I understood the power I had as a politician and how I could contribute [to pro-Israel hasbara]. True I didn’t don the green [IDF] uniform. However, from that day on I’m in uniform. I’m on a mission.
I’m explaining to the American people that the attack on Israel is an attack on the entire world. THe Palestinian people are the first to suffer from Hamas’ leadership. The war Israel is prepared to wage now is not just one that is vital for the country, it is vital as well for the Palestinian people and the entire world.
We see all the demagoguery in Congress–Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and all the fuss, the lies they spread. Is it any surprise that there is such a rise in anti-Semitism; and that people call for an Intifada and to destroy Israel? Because of politicians like the Squad, the American people simply don’t understand the facts. It doesn’t know there are 2-million Muslim Arabs [sic] in Israel who live side by side with Jews; and who hold senior positions.
That you call an apartheid state? I studied at the University of Haifa during the era of terror attacks, just as my best friends at school were Muslims.”
The average person sees Israel as racist. Those shouting for the destruction of Israel are the future leaders [of the country]. This greatly troubles me and is the reason I’m running. In Congress, there is a small minority who make a lot of noise; and it’s important to fight against them. That’s my goal. I’m coming there [to Congress] to educate and tell Israel’s story. In a time when Congress must pass the Israeli [supplemental] budget–this has immense power.
She even offers the entirely groundless claim that Hamas’ 10/7 attack was not Israel’s fault, but Biden’s:
None of this [the assault on Israel] would have happened under Trump administration, which projected power against terror groups. You can’t do it any other way. You must project strength and Biden had no power of deterrence. He was weak. Hamas exploited this opportunity and committed suicide as a result. It was total suicide, but they decided to do it [the attack] because they believed there would be no consequences.
The purpose is to deflect blame for Israel’s catastrophic intelligence failure and dump it in Biden’s lap. Clearly, the fault is no one’s but Israel. But the good soldier Pilip, is ever ready to divert attention from the real culprit.
She also projects a false image of an Israel united during wartime. The truth is anything but, after the execution of three Israeli hostages seeking to escape their Hamas captors:
Since the war began, the people have united. This is an existential war and it’s good to see everyone is together. Though we may disagree on everything, we’ve put our differences aside. This shows the strength of Israeli democracy…Right now, our strength is our unity…This is what’s good about the Jewish people–we come together from all over the world. People who made aliyah, soldiers who sacrificed themselves for the state. This is worthy of admiration. For the sake of our soldiers, it’s important to unite and take care that this doesn’t happen again.
She claims that the reason she entered politics was the anti-Semitism her children suffered in school. In a wild exaggeration, she claims:
Every Jew in the country worries about anti-Semitism. Jewish students are attacked and no one protects them especially after the war [began]. I have a special protective feeling as a mother. The reputation of America when I arrived, as such a wonderful place–is no more. Today there is chaos…
She dismisses her current Democratic registration:
“It has no meaning. The natural inclination of immigrants when they arrive in the US is to register initially as Democrats. But with time, I discovered that my values are much more closely tied to the Republicans. Those things that are most important to me as a woman, as a mother are first and foremost my personal safety, strengthening the family, lowering taxes, and toughening immigration policy. Today, the borders are so porous, we don’t know who’s entering, if they are criminals or not.
One has to ask, if registering as a Democrat has no meaning to her, why would we assume that registering as a Republican has any as well? Did she not understand what the Democratic Party stood for when she registered? Not to mention that she’s been in this country for nearly 20 years. She’s no longer an immigrant. Did it take her 20 years to discover her values weren’t aligned with it?
It’s strange that she ran as a Republican in her first country race, but never thought to change her registration. It’s understood that all politicians are opportunities to a greater or lesser extent (eg Sen. John Fetterman). But Pilip’s opportunism is right up there.
Another bit of hypocrisy: she immigrated to this country with her wealthy American spouse. She faced none of the hurdles obstructing the entrance of working class immigrants, not to mention those targeted with violence or sexual abuse in their home countries. It’s easy for her to denigrate these immigrants when she arrived as a privileged newcomer.
It seems the Nassau GOP also shared her opportunism and hypocrisy when they nominated her. They didn’t even ask her to register as a Republican:
“They never troubled to ask about the party registration. I can change it any time if they request that I do so.”
In her Ynet interview, she astonishingly admits that she supported George Santos.
While there are 300,000 Jewish voters in her district, who may be likely to donate their wealth to her campaign, it will come as news and perhaps a shock to non-Jewish voters that the GOP candidate is not only is an Israeli citizen, but her primary (and perhaps only) goal is to serve Israel’s interests in Congress. In fact, she boasts that when elected to Congress:
“I will represent my district and Israel. I am so proud of my people [Israel], after everything we’ve gone through. The Jewish people live. Our strength is our unity and Israel must know that it has a representative who is 100% all-in [for Israel]
This news should be of interest as well to her Democratic opponent, Thomas Suozzi, who held the same seat before his failed bid for New York governor.
Great Neck’s wealthy Jewish community will, no doubt, provide substantial financial support to her candidacy. Aipac too will contribute if it feels she has a reasonable chance of success. That is unclear at this point, since she’s only raised $200,000 towards a campaign that requires considerably more to be competitive. She says that the election for her seat will be “the most expensive in the history of New York State.” If she’s right, we know who will be shoveling cash into her campaign: the billionaire pro-Israel hedge fund fat-cats like Paul Singer, Bernie Marcus, Seth Klarman, Ronald Lauder, etc. Not to mention Aipac’s own PAC which funneled $30-million into the 2022 elections. Given that 2024 is a presidential election cycle, expenditures will be orders of magnitude higher.
Another criticism raised against her is her political inexperience: before winning her first term on the Nassau county council, she never ran for office. She had never run in a county-wide race, let along one for federal office. She may have a backstory that is compelling to some, but she will have a difficult time fighting the headwinds her better known Democratic opponent will generate in this race.