Diaspora Alliance is taking the Government to court

by Emily Hilton

Diaspora Alliance is taking the Government to court

by Emily Hilton
Emily Hilton
Case Owner
I'm the UK Director of Diaspora Alliance. I also co-founded Na'amod: British Jews Against Occupation. I write extensively about antisemitism, Israel/Palestine and progressive politics.
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Emily Hilton
Case Owner
I'm the UK Director of Diaspora Alliance. I also co-founded Na'amod: British Jews Against Occupation. I write extensively about antisemitism, Israel/Palestine and progressive politics.
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Diaspora Alliance is a Jewish-led international organisation dedicated to fighting antisemitism. We believe in promoting the values of a multiracial and pluralistic democracy.

Diaspora Alliance’s core mission is to fight antisemitism and its politicisation. Antisemitism and its politicisation are two intertwined and interrelated problems that pose a significant risk to a healthy, equitable, multi-racial democracy. To tackle either problem requires tackling them both, and Diaspora Alliance aims to do so by integrating this fight within a pro-democratic, multiracial and pluralistic agenda. 

In the face of an increasingly authoritarian and anti-democratic Government, it is crucial that we use every avenue at our disposal to protect the rights of minoritised and marginalised communities. We have seen over the last few months how both antisemitism and islamophobia have increased, as well as the craven way our politicians and media instrumentalise these real concerns for their repressive political agenda - especially to shut down advocacy on Palestine. A Government that so readily pits Jewish safety against Palestinian human rights is not one we trust to enact an effective and meaningful anti-racism education programme. 

Challenging deeply inhumane, undemocratic, and unjust politics — and specifically the ways in which Jewish history, Jewish fears, and Jewish identity are used to justify and advance these political agendas, not least of all when it comes to Palestine— is at the heart of Diaspora Alliance’s work. Strengthening progressives around the world not only to push back against the instrumentalisation of antisemitism, but to also see fighting antisemitism itself as integral to the broader project of racial, economic, gender, and social justice, is a big part of how we do it. 

This is why we have brought this case. 

My name is Emily. I’m the UK Director of Diaspora Alliance. Before joining DA, I co-founded Na’amod: British Jews Against Occupation and am also on the advisory committee for the Centre for Jewish-Non Violence. I write a lot about issues relating to antisemitism, Israel/Palestine and progressive politics, including for the New Statesman, Tribune  The Independent, +972 Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Jewish Currents. 

Here’s our case: 

On March 7th, we filed a judicial review to challenge the Government’s decision to centre the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in its newly announced £6 million training tender - for a national programme of antisemitism training in schools, colleges and universities in England, without including any provisions to ensure that the successful bidder will draw a distinction between antisemitism and the the expression of beliefs that are not antisemitic, such as legitimate criticism of Israel, when providing the training.  

We believe that centering this definition without including reference to the importance of upholding equalities and human rights law actually hinders our ability to effectively educate about antisemitism. Importantly, it also undermines Palestinian human rights advocacy and free speech.

It isn’t just us: this definition is also seen as controversial by hundreds of scholars of antisemitism and Jewish history, who believe  it insufficient for addressing antisemitism, and is  instead used to repress free speech and to silence those who campaign against the actions of the Israeli government. 

We believe that the shortcomings of the procurement threaten the fight against antisemitism, and thereby the safety and wellbeing of Jews in the UK (and beyond). 

How you can help: 

We are aiming to raise £25,000 to cover the costs of the judicial review.  We need your support to ensure that we can continue to do the vital work of opposing the UK government’s action to centre the IHRA definition of antisemitism in its procurement process. We feel that this case is is an opportunity to push back on the Government’s attempts to drive wedges between Jews and other minority communities - but we can only continue if we raise enough money. 

Please contribute what you can and share this page with your friends today! 

What are we trying to achieve? 

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 IHRA definition of antisemitism runs against those advocating for justice in Palestine, but it also is dividing our community and makes it far less likely that this training programme will be effective. Any approach to addressing antisemitism on campus and in schools must also reflect the diversity of Jewish opinion and experience. Unfortunately, the services which this government has put out to tender will use the IHRA working definition as the sole tool for educating students about the dividing line between acceptable free speech and antisemitism. For that reason, it is not fit for purpose.

If the Government tender remains unchanged, the centrality of the IHRA definition will have a chilling effect on freedom of speech around Israel – which will ultimately prove to have negative consequences on the fight against antisemitism and the protection of civil rights. Moreover, the IHRA definition is prone to being used as a “quick fix” to antisemitism - we want the Government to ensure that such a huge project is approached with all the due consideration it warrants, so that this education programme is able to identify the root causes of antisemitism and work to confront them. 

We want to see a multi-racial and pluralistic democracy in which our Government combats antisemitism, alongside fighting racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and ethnonationalism.

Our ideal outcome is that the Government rewrites this tender to ensure that antisemitism education is delivered effectively, while protecting free speech and the civil rights that are cornerstones of our democracy.

What is the next step in the case? 

We have now submitted the judicial review request to the High Court. We hope that in the next three months we will receive permission from the courts for the case to be heard. A one day hearing will then take place, likely within the next six months.

Our fundraising goal

We are aiming to raise £25,000 to cover the costs of the judicial review, should we lose the case. In particular, should we lose the case most of this money will need to be used to pay the Government’s costs. Our legal team is kindly working on very reduced fees, and they will not charge beyond the balance of any funds raised once the Government’s costs are paid in the event we lose. If we win they will not charge more than what has been raised plus what is payable by the Government and can be recovered. We e are extremely grateful for the support, guidance and expertise. 

If you have been kind enough to make a contribution today, thank you so much for your support. Please do share this with your friends. If you would like to ask our team a bit more about the case you can email us here: [email protected] 

Thank you for reading and for supporting this critical work. We are deeply grateful for all donations to this crowdjustice - every little bit helps! 

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