Election 2020

Following Biden’s win in Michigan, local supporters are optimistic while opponents are holding steadfast.

More than a week after Election Day, after Joe Biden won a bitterly fought contest for the state of Michigan, members of the Metro Detroit Jewish community from both sides of the aisle are as outspoken as ever about what they feel is best for the country and the Jewish people as a whole.

“I’m obviously very pleased with the outcome,” said Hannan Lis, former president of the JCC of Metro Detroit and former board member of the American Jewish Committee. Lis is a prominent donor to Democratic causes.

“I think it makes Jewish Americans feel that they have a friend in the White House,” Lis said. “President-elect Biden has already expressed his support for the Abraham Accords and for the expanding of Israeli cooperation in the Gulf. I think he understands what Israel faces and reflects values that have been an American commitment to Israel, not a partisan commitment.”

Eugene Greenstein, former president of the Zionist Organization of America’s Michigan region, believes President Trump made a “major difference” for Jews in Israel and America.

Greenstein, speaking in his individual capacity, listed as Trump’s notable achievements the creating of the Title VI executive order targeting antisemitism on college campuses, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, helping to broker the Abraham Accords and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. He’s wary of what he believes a Biden presidency might do.

“If the Biden administration moves forward and does what it says, it puts Israel at risk,” Greenstein said.

The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in Michigan alleging voter fraud and seeking to cast doubt on Biden’s win on the state. But officials have debunked many of the allegations raised in court.

Greenstein was a poll chairman and Republican poll challenger at the TCF Center in Detroit, where the state’s final ballots were counted.

Greenstein claimed there was a lack of transparency and said he saw “several” absentee ballot envelopes with names and numbers that were different from those on the ballot itself.

“I’ll just leave it at that without trying to get into details,” Greenstein said, adding that the absentee ballots “should’ve been thrown out.”

No ‘Clear Evidence’

Rachel Lutz, who was a nonpartisan poll challenger registered with the ACLU, worked on Election Day in her neighborhood precinct in Elmwood Park (on Detroit’s near-east side) and a little past midnight at the TCF Center. Lutz has heard the rumors of voter fraud but said she hasn’t seen any convincing evidence.

“By putting forth allegations without clear evidence, those challengers who claim they’re there to protect our system are actually undermining our entire democracy,” Lutz said.

Some alleging fraud at the TCF Center claim that Republicans weren’t allowed in to observe the ballot counting.

Lutz said that only registered challengers can be allowed in the room, and full capacity was already reached by both parties by the time the “Stop The Count” protesters arrived.

Rabbi Alana Alpert, founding executive director of Detroit Jews for Justice and rabbi at Congregation T’chiyah in Oak Park, believes the election outcome is a step in the right direction.

“It will be some time before we heal from the terror of Trump’s emboldening of antisemites and white supremacists, but we can breathe easier now that the threat of proto-fascism has been lifted,” Alpert said.

“We’re under no illusion that Biden’s presidency will herald the kind of change this country truly needs, but we’re grateful to have a worthy adversary and partner in our struggle to win racial and economic justice.”

Barbara Nickel, a West Bloomfield resident and Biden voter, is happy her nominee won but is especially happy the election process is over.

Nickel hopes Biden maintains many of the outgoing president’s policies on Israel. “Where Trump shines is what he’s done for Israel, but his fault is what he did for the United States of America,” she said.

Irma Glaser, National Council of Jewish Women-Michigan’s co-state policy advocate, believes Kamala Harris becoming the first female vice president is a watershed moment for women everywhere.

“The thing I got out of this election is, we do have someone for all women and young girls to look up to,” Glaser said. “It doesn’t matter which party — it matters that finally a woman is recognized as maybe being capable of handling the government of this country.”

Referring to Harris, Glaser said. “A woman has finally achieved a position of leadership nearly at the top of our U.S. government. Other countries have recognized women as their top leaders for much longer, but better late than never.”

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