The war in the Middle East is shaking up American politics in a variety of ways — and Michigan is no exception.
As the war between Israel and Hamas continues to ramp up, claiming more and more civilian lives, the conflict has become a polarizing issue for many liberal politicians and residents in Michigan, with a Jewish community of more than 70,000 people and the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the country calling metro Detroit home.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans have moved to censure Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib — a Democrat from Detroit and the only Palestinian-American member of Congress — for criticizing Israel.
At the state level, Governor Gretchen Whitmer appears to have also taken a side, stating that she “unequivocally” supports Israel at a Southfield synagogue on Oct. 9 — two days after Hamas killed more than 1,400 Israelis and kidnapped more than 230 civilians in a widespread terror attack on southern Israel that ignited the conflict.
This week, in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State, Gov. Whitmer requested an update on Michigan residents trapped in the Gaza Strip since the war broke out, as more than 8,500 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in the region since Oct. 7, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Dennis Darnoi, founder of the political consulting firm Densar Consulting — which tracks voter data — and Greg Bowens, political and communications consultant and reporter for BLAC Detroit and the Detroit News, joined Detroit Today on Wednesday to discuss the consequences of the ongoing war at the local level, and how it is changing the voting makeup of Democratic voters in Michigan.
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Dennis Darnoi is the founder of Densar Consulting, a political consulting firm that tracks voter data. He says Jewish and Arab progressive voters are looking at politicians’ stance on the Israel-Hamas war as a pivotal voting issue – a stance that seems to demand a non-nuanced position.
“Now you’re within this party and it is sort of a bright line where there isn’t any conversation in the middle,” said Darnoi. “It’s either you are for us or you are against us.”
Greg Bowens is a political and communications consultant and reporter for BLAC Detroit and the Detroit News. He says the Israel-Hamas war is creating tension between Democrat representatives and is dividing liberal voters.
“As it stands now, we find ourselves trying to walk this tightrope in understanding as liberals,” said Bowens. “As a liberal organization we are all about respecting the human rights of everybody.”
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