£7m school antisemitism awareness training scheme ‘paused’ over IHRA legal challenge

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£7m school antisemitism awareness training scheme ‘paused’ over IHRA legal challenge

The Diaspora Alliance has filed for a judicial review claiming that IHRA 'fails to protect Jews and free speech' because of the definition's divisive reputation in the community.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Jeremy Hunt delivers Autumn Statement (Parliament TV)
Jeremy Hunt delivers Autumn Statement (Parliament TV)

A Government scheme to deliver antisemitism in schools is being challenged in the High Court over its use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition of anti-Jewish racism.

An organisation named the Diaspora Alliance has filed for a judicial review claiming that IHRA “fails to protect Jews and free speech” because of the definition’s divisive reputation in the community.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had announced £7million of funding for the project in last year’s budget, with group’s including the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Community Security Trust amongst those tendering bids for the three year programme.

But the Department for Education has now confirmed that its Tackling Antisemitism in Education procurement process has been “paused” while they “consider and respond to points raised by some of the interested organisations.”

Jewish News understands the  Diaspora Alliance filed its judicial review last week, with reference made to the the academic and attorney, Kenneth S. Stern, who was the lead author of the IHRA working definition, and has repeatedly voiced serious concerns about institutions.

Emily Hilton, UK Director of Diaspora Alliance, the claimant in the case, said:”Tackling antisemitic behaviour and ideology isn’t just vital for Jewish people, it’s also crucially important for the protection of free speech in our multi-racial democracy.

“Robust training on antisemitism, racism and all forms of discrimination is a vital part of this. This is why we have launched proceedings- because this Government is failing to protect Jews and risks making the problem of antisemitism worse.”

The DfE confirmed:”We have paused the Tackling Antisemitism in Education procurement process while we consider and respond to points raised by some of the interested organisations. The Department will inform all bidders of the next steps in this procurement process, including any updated timelines, in due course.”

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