(JTA) — Two conservative Jewish organizations known for their support of President Donald Trump’s Israel policies will not call Joe Biden “president-elect” until legal challenges are settled, reflecting a consolidation of right-wing backing for Trump’s refusal to concede.
“We will be referring to ‘President-elect’ Biden when the states certify the election and the courts have ruled on allegations of fraud and irregularities,” Matt Brooks, the Republican Jewish Coalition director, said in an email. “Remember it’s the states that call outcomes, not decision desks.”
Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, said he too would not use the term. “I will not call him president-elect, I will say ‘likely president-elect,’” Klein said in an interview.
After Biden posted insurmountable leads in enough states to make the election clear, major media projected him as the winner on Saturday, as they have prior to formal certification dating back to the 19th century. But Trump and a number of Republicans have launched multiple lawsuits challenging vote counts in a number of states where the vote was close, falsely alleging fraud.
Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, set the tone Monday for much of the party and its allies on the right when he said in a Senate floor speech that it would be premature to refer to Biden as president-elect, pending the outcome of Trump’s legal challenges.
Nonetheless, a number of moderate Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska have congratulated Biden and referred to him as president-elect.
There were multiple legal challenges and demands for recounts in states in 2016, but no one hesitated to call the election then for Trump, or to refer to him immediately as “president-elect.”
Klein faulted the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations for congratulating Biden. A number of other mainstream Jewish groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee have also congratulated Biden, as have a number of Modern Orthodox and haredi Orthodox groups whose constituents were likely to have supported Trump.