Mazi Melesa Pilip, the GOP candidate vying to fill the void left by the expulsion of George Santos, recently indicated that her congressional campaign might face resistance from some Muslims due to her past service in the Israeli Defense Forces.

In an interview with Israel Hayom, a right-wing Israeli news outlet, the Nassau County legislator acknowledged, “I know there will be a handful of Muslims who won’t appreciate a former Israeli soldier running for Congress; it may deter them.” Pilip emphasized that while progressive Democrats might also disapprove, she believes the majority of voters will support her, asserting, “The US is a friend of Israel, and the American people are with us,” despite potential opposition from certain quarters.

Business Insider has reached out to Pilip’s campaign to seek clarification on her comments, but we are still waiting for a response.


Pilip has emphasized her service in the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade, referring to herself as a “paratrooper,” even though she served as a gunsmith rather than a parachutist. In an interview with Newsday, she explained that all members of the paratrooper unit identify as “paratroopers.”

Her candidacy unfolds against the backdrop of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, sparked by the October 7 Hamas terror attack. The Gaza Health Ministry reports that over 20,000 Palestinians have been killed since then.

Despite having served as a county-level legislator for less than two years, Pilip’s candidacy presents opportunities and challenges for the GOP in the Long Island district formerly represented by George Santos.

Mazi Melesa Pilip presents a unique profile as an Ethiopian-born Jewish woman with seven children, a departure from the typical Republican politician and a potential appeal to a broader electorate. However, her political inexperience has been evident since her recent selection by local party leaders.

George Santos
In this October 27 photo, George Santos exits federal court in Central Islip, New York.

On the issue of abortion, Pilip has expressed a stance against “the national abortion ban” without specifying her position on potential restrictions at the state or federal levels. Regarding Donald Trump, the former president and likely 2024 GOP nominee, she has chosen not to disclose her views, stating it’s a personal matter and emphasizing her commitment to supporting the party’s nominee.

Facing former Rep. Tom Suozzi, a relatively moderate Democrat, in the special election on February 13, Pilip’s candidacy is marked by a mix of unique qualities and challenges in articulating clear positions on key issues.

Mazi Melesa Pilip’s candidacy in the February 13 special election presents a distinctive profile as an Ethiopian-born Jewish woman with seven children, setting her apart from the conventional Republican politician and potentially appealing to a broader segment of the electorate. However, her relative political inexperience has become evident, particularly in her struggles to articulate clear positions on key issues since her recent selection.

Pilip’s vague stance on abortion, where she opposes “the national abortion ban” without providing details on her position regarding potential restrictions, and her refusal to disclose her views on Donald Trump, the likely 2024 GOP nominee, have raised questions about her policy positions. As she faces former Rep. Tom Suozzi, a moderate Democrat, in the upcoming election, Pilip’s candidacy is marked by a combination of unique qualities and challenges, leaving room for voters to assess her readiness to represent their interests.

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