OverviewHannah Nahar has signed a petition condemning the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA), a bipartisan bill drafted in response to growing anti-Semitism in the United States.
She is an activist with the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organization at Tufts University (Tufts).
Nahar has promoted the #returnthebirthright initiative launched by JVP against the Birthright Jewish heritage tour (Birthright).
As of May 2018, Nahar’s LinkedIn page said she was slated to graduate Tufts in 2018 with a degree in English.
As of the same date, Nahar’s Facebook “About" page said she worked as a bookseller at Trident Booksellers & Cafe in Boston, Massachusetts.
Opposing the Anti-Semitism Awareness ActIn December of 2016, Nahar signed a JVP-launched petition opposing the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA), which was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate on December 1, 2016.
JVP’s petition asserted that anti-Semitism did not warrant its own bill but should rather be considered equal to other forms of bigotry. The petition also purported that “real anti-Semitism" came from the “white supremacist movements in this country" and contended the bill did “little to protect us, as Jewish students, from these dangers."
The petition also claimed that BDS was “not inherently anti semitic" and called the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism “problematic."
Condemning Jewish Heritage TourOn March 28, 2018, Nahar reportedly joined other JVP activists who tabled on campus for Return the Birthright, encouraging students to boycott the Birthright trip. In an interview with Tufts campus newspaper, Nahar explained that “We are out here to say we are young Jews who are boycotting Birthright… We don’t believe that Birthright is something that Jews should do, and we don’t want our money being funneled toward it."
Nahar continued: “The pervasiveness of Birthright programming at Hillel makes it feel like it [is inherent to Judaism]. I think it’s really important to have a Jewish community, and I don’t think that Birthright programming should be implicit to that."
On February 14, 2018, the Return the Birthright campaign posted a photo on Facebook of a large group of student JVP members, including Nahar, gathered behind a “Return the Birthright" banner.
The caption on the photo read: “This weekend, we gathered from dozens of schools across the country to plan the next steps of our campaign! Because we don't need a free trip to Israel, while Palestinian refugees can't return to their homes. And we're not the only ones."
On October 6, 2017, the Return the Birthright campaign posted a photo on Facebook of Tufts JVP members, featuring Nahar, tabling for the campaign on campus at their university. The table featured a large sign with the words “Ask a Jewish Student About Birthright."
Return the Birthright CampaignIn September of 2017, JVP issued its #ReturntheBirthright campaign manifesto, calling on American Jews to boycott the Birthright Israel (Birthright) program. Birthright was founded by Jewish philanthropists “in 1999 to address the growing divide between young Diaspora Jewish adults and the land and people of Israel."
After decades of demographic decline in the American Jewish community, Birthright set out “to strengthen Jewish identity, build a lasting bond with the land and people of Israel, and reinforce the solidarity of Jewish people worldwide." The program offers “the gift of a life-changing, 10-day trip to Israel to young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26."
JVP’s anti-Birthright campaign was launched precisely to coincide with “the very moment that college students across America are returning to campus and registration for Birthright winter visits are underway."
The #returnthebirthright manifesto accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing" and alleged “the modern state of Israel is predicated on the ongoing erasure of Palestinians."
The text claimed: “We reject the offer of a free trip to a state that does not represent us, a trip that is only ‘free’ because it has been paid for by the dispossession of Palestinians."
The manifesto concluded: “And as we reject this, we commit to promoting the right to return of Palestinian refugees… Israel is not our Birthright… Return the Birthright."
On June 22, 2017, just prior to the launch of JVP’s #returnthebirthright campaign, JVP received a $140,00 two-year grant for general support for its operations from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF).
On June 27, 2017 Nahar indicated on Facebook that she went to an event called: “JVP-Boston June Meeting: Pinkwashing in the US & Palestine." The event description said it would discuss Israeli “efforts to cynically use LGBTQ rights as a distraction and normalization of occupation, apartheid, and settler colonialism - a concept known as pinkwashing."
On June 12, 2017, Nahar indicated on Facebook that she went to an event called: “Protest Against Israel's 50 Year Military Occupation!" The event was co-sponsored by JVP and SJP chapters throughout Massachusetts. The groups organized a protest to mark “50 years since the start of Israel's military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights."
JVP was founded in Berkeley, California in 1996, as an activist group with an emphasis on the "Jewish tradition" of peace, social justice and human rights. The organization is currently led by Rebecca Vilkomerson and its board members include controversial Israel critics Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky and Tony Kushner.
JVP, which generally employs civil disobedience tactics like disrupting pro-Israel speakers and events, consists of American Jews and non-Jewish "allies" highly critical of Israeli policies. A staunch supporter of the BDS movement, JVP claims to aim its campaigns at companies that either support the Israeli military (Hewlett-Packard) or are active in the West Bank (SodaStream).
Although several Jewish groups critical of Israeli policies, like J Street and Partners for a Progressive Israel, make efforts to operate within the mainstream American Jewish community, JVP functions outside. The group is often criticized for serving as a tokenized Jewish voice for the pro-Palestinian camp and is widely regarded as the BDS movement's "Jewish wing."
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has accused JVP of being "the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States," and said the group "exploits Jewish culture and rituals to reassure its own supporters that opposition to Israel not only does not contradict, but is actually consistent with, Jewish values... JVP consistently co-sponsors rallies to oppose Israeli military policy that are marked by signs and slogans comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, demonizing Jews and voicing support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah."
According to the ADL website, JVP "uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism and provide it with a greater degree of legitimacy and credibility."
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