Michigan Jews for Joe Biden held its kick-off event Tuesday evening.
Michigan Jews for Joe Biden held its kick-off event Tuesday evening.

Reps called on Michigan Jewish community stand up to racism

After months of taking a backseat to news about COVID-19 and racial justice, the upcoming 2020 elections are beginning to attract local political attention from Jews.

Michigan Jews for Joe Biden held their kick-off Zoom event Tuesday night. The event included speeches by Democratic Jewish Reps. Andy Levin and Elissa Slotkin, State Senator Jeremy Moss and State Representative Robert Wittenberg, along with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Michigan Jews for Joe Biden, an offshoot group of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus, was created in May to organize the local Jewish community around electing presidential candidate Joe Biden, who clinched the Democratic nomination for president June 6.

MDJC Chair Noah Arbit began the event by explaining that the MDJC endorsed Joe Biden because “American Jews will find neither safety nor security so long as Donald Trump remains in office.”

Arbit also said that anti-Semitism is linked to racism, xenophobia and other forms of hatred in our country. He called on Michigan Jews to “stand up and say that Black Lives Matter because they do and they must, and it’s time that our public policy reflect that.”

Following Arbit’s introduction, each elected official at the meeting spoke about why they support Biden in the 2020 election.

“Friends, this is the moment, clearly, for us to unite behind Joe Biden,” Congressman Andy Levin said. “It’s an absolute must for moving America toward justice for all, toward our shared view of tikkun olam.”

MDJC was founded by Noah Arbit to elevate Jewish voices in Michigan politics, fight against anti-Semitism and advocate for progressive policies in Michigan. According to Arbit, the kickoff event was the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus’s largest event to date based on pre-registration numbers.

In other Jewish political news, Detroit’s chapter of IfNotNow — an advocacy group formed among American Jews to push for an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza — voted to endorse Detroit Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for re-election.

Franmarie Metzler

“The last few months have surfaced deep-rooted inequalities in our society, and the need for bold and urgent leadership has never been clearer,” a Facebook post from IfNotNow reads. “Jewish Detroiters know that Rashida stands with us in the fight against police brutality, mass incarceration and white nationalism.”

Tlaib represents Michigan’s 13th district, which includes a portion of Detroit and other cities in Wayne County. She is a controversial figure among the local Jewish community for her vocal criticism of Israel. Her district’s hotly contested Democratic primary is scheduled for Aug. 4; many prominent local Jewish leaders have previously pledged to try to unseat her.

Are you a member of a local Jewish group that is endorsing a candidate for office this year? Let us know!

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Michigan Jews for Joe Biden as a “splinter” group of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Council. They are not a splinter group but an offshoot of the MDJC. Additionally, the group is named the Michigan Democratic Caucus, not council. 

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