Met criticised over arrest threat to ‘openly Jewish’ man near pro-Palestine demo

The head of a charity combatting antisemitism said the Metropolitan Police is allowing “no-go zones for Jews” after footage showed him being threatened with arrest close to a pro-Palestine march.

Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, was wearing a kippah skull cap when he was stopped from crossing the road near the demonstration in the Aldwych area of London on Saturday afternoon.

The video clip, which was posted on social media, showed Mr Falter being told by police that he was “quite openly Jewish” and causing a “breach of peace”.

The footage showed one police officer saying: “You are quite openly Jewish, this is a pro-Palestinian march, I’m not accusing you of anything but I’m worried about the reaction to your presence.”

Another officer said: “There’s a unit of people here now.

“You will be escorted out of this area so you can go about your business, go where you want freely or if you choose to remain here because you are causing a breach of peace with all these other people, you will be arrested.”

The clip showed the officer saying that Mr Falter’s presence was “antagonising”.

Scotland Yard responded that it is aware of the footage and fully acknowledges “the worry it has caused”.

Mr Falter said: “Despite being told repeatedly that London is safe for Jews when these marches are taking place, my interactions with police officers last Saturday show that the Met believes that being openly Jewish will antagonise the anti-Israel marchers and that Jews need protection, which the police cannot guarantee.

“Instead of addressing that threat of antisemitic violence, the Met’s policy instead seems to be that law-abiding Jewish Londoners should not be in the parts of London where these marches are taking place. In other words, that they are no-go zones for Jews.”

A screengrab of Gideon Falter speaking to the officer during march (Campaign Against Antisemitism/PA)
A screengrab of Gideon Falter speaking to an officer during march (Campaign Against Antisemitism/PA)

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in London last Saturday to call for a ceasefire and urge the Government to stop all arms sales to Israel.

Crowds waved Palestinian flags, chanted “free Palestine” and held signs calling for a “ceasefire now” and an end to arms sales.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “We are aware of this video and fully acknowledge the worry it has caused, not only to those featured, but also anyone who watches it, and will review the circumstances.

“We have always said that we recognise the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to be an issue of concern for many Londoners, and this includes the regular protests and marches in central London.

“Everyone has the right to travel throughout the capital in safety.

“We will meet with anyone who wishes to organise a march or protest ahead of April 27.”

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