Gideon Falter cancels protest walk over ‘security concerns’

CEO of Campaign Against Antisemitism had planned for the community walk to coincide with a pro-Palestine march in central London


Pro-Israel supporters hold placards and wave Israelian flags as they gather opposite to a pro-Palestinian rally outside Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, in central London, on 17 April, 2024. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Jewish campaigner who was threatened with arrest for being “openly Jewish” at a pro-Palestine march has cancelled a scheduled community walk on Saturday over safety concerns.

Gideon Falter, head of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), called off the Walk Together initiative on Friday over “the risk to the safety of those who wished to walk openly as Jews in London,” according to a statement by CAA. 

"Due to the thousands of people now intending to join and then walk where they please – something that we used to take for granted in London as Jewish people without having to discuss with police ahead of time – we still do not have confidence that people would be safe.”

The statement added: “We have received numerous threats and our monitoring has identified hostile actors who seem to have intended to come to any meeting locations that we announced. The risk to the safety of those who wished to walk openly as Jews in London tomorrow as part of this initiative has therefore become too great.”

Last week Falter called on his supporters to join him for a “walk” on 27 April, intended to coincide with another pro-Palestine march in central London. In a letter to Met Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain on 19 April, a screenshot of which Falter posted to X, the CAA head wrote:

“I am not planning a protest on 27th April. I am going for a walk as a private individual. I have not yet decided where I will walk, however it is likely that whilst walking I will be quite openly Jewish. Others might decide to join me. They might not. That is a matter for them. They might also be quite openly Jewish. They might not. That is also a matter for them.”

Falter has been pushing for the resignation of Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley since his altercation with an officer at a pro-Palestine march on 13 April, during which Falter was told that his “openly Jewish” presence was causing a “breach of the peace.”

Falter had been walking through central London after a Shabbat service, wearing a yarmulke and carrying a prayer bag, when he was stopped on Aldwych and told his appearance would “antagonise” crowds.

Footage of the incident was shared widely online, and the police reaction swiftly condemned. Robert Largan, the MP for High Peak, Derbyshire, called the interaction “beyond appalling,” while Lord Ian Austin called the scenes “completely unacceptable.”

Rishi Sunak also criticised the Met’s response, saying earlier this week: “I was shocked to see that footage over the weekend, as I'm sure many people were. That's why when I was asked yesterday I was very clear that the police have got to not just manage these protests, they’ve got to police them.

“My expectation is that the Met Commissioner regains the trust and confidence of the Jewish community and the public more broadly when it comes to how these protests are being policed and not just managed.”

The dispute intensified last week when Rowley’s top aide, assistant commissioner Matt Twist, issued an apology statement on X which was swiftly characterised by critics as “victim-blaming,” prompting the Met to delete the tweet and issue a rewritten apology statement.

Over 10,000 people have since signed a petition, spearheaded by CAA, calling for Rowley’s dismissal.

On Thursday, Falter met with Home Secretary James Cleverly and Minister for Policing Chris Philp to discuss what can be done to improve the policing of protests. In a clip posted to X, Falter and Steven Silverman, CAA Director of Investigations and Enforcement, said they “were able to present concrete policy proposals” during the meeting but did not elaborate on the content of the proposals.

CAA’s statement on Friday addressed this recent meeting, adding that Silverman had met with the Met Police Service “which told him of its desire to protect Jews walking in the area, but we have a responsibility to be sure that they can.”

"We want to walk. We want to force the Met to police these marches, not merely manage them. But we cannot encourage thousands of people to walk when there are such risks to their safety, and there are.”

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