Campaign group blocks government plans to fund antisemitism training in UK schools

Government plans to fund antisemitism training in schools and universities were halted after a left-wing campaign group blocked them in the High Court due to the objection to the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

The Jewish Chronicle revealed that behind the backer of the campaign group blocking government plans to fund antisemitism training in schools in the United Kingdom is the US-based Tides Foundation, which is partly funded by billionaire George Soros. The foundation also supports groups that have blamed Israel for October 7 and supported Hamas’ “resistance”.

Following an announcement by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt during his autumn statement last year, Jewish organisations had formed consortiums to tender bids for the £7 million training program. However, on March 7, the day before the bidding process was due to close, an email from the Department for Education (DfE) informed all supporters that the process had been frozen indefinitely.

The email said, “The department has enacted a pause to the procurement,” adding that it hoped the process would soon reopen.

The decision came a week after the UK branch of the US-based Diaspora Alliance launched a High Court judicial review of the scheme, arguing it should be scrapped because the Department for Education has stipulated that the training should use the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, reports The Jewish Chronicle.

The Diaspora Alliance argued that the definition “has been used to repress free speech and silence those who campaign against Israel’s government’s actions” and was “really an attempt to create a speech code about Israel”.

The Alliance’s UK director, Emily Hilton, told the JC that “the IHRA definition of antisemitism runs against those advocating for justice in Palestine”, while “to truly root out antisemitism, we need a framework that doesn’t silo the fight against antisemitism from other oppression struggles, including the struggle for Palestinian human rights”. The IHRA definition says that it is antisemitic to state that Israel does not have the right to exist, or to claim that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is comparable to that of Jews by the Nazis.

The Diaspora Alliance director and her colleagues commissioned two top law firms to represent them in court. If the High Court grants permission for a full hearing, the costs could run to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

However, the Diaspora Alliance’s main backer, the US-based Tides Foundation, has vast resources. According to its most recent US tax filings, in 2022, it had assets worth more than $1 billion. Its donors include the US-Hungarian billionaire George Soros.

Among its beneficiaries are Black Lives Matter and two Jewish organisations that campaign against Israel’s government, Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow.

On the day of the October 7 terrorist massacre, one of Tides Foundation’s beneficiaries, the anti-Israel IfNotNow, issued a statement blaming Israel for the atrocities. Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), another beneficiary of the foundation, said the same day: “Israeli apartheid and occupation – and the United States complicity in that oppression – is the source of all this violence.”

Jewish organisations that hoped to take part in the antisemitism training condemned the campaign, claiming that insofar as the Diaspora Alliance succeeds in their claim, it would set the fight against antisemitism back by years.