Policeman threatens to arrest campaigner for being ‘openly Jewish’ at Gaza rally in London

CAA head Gideon Falter was told his presence could cause a ‘breach of peace’


A Metropolitan Police officer threatened to arrest the head of an anti-racism campaign group for being visibly Jewish at a Gaza rally in central London last weekend.

A video from last Saturday’s march shows the policeman physically block Campaign Against Antisemitism Chief Executive Gideon Falter from crossing a street over his “openly Jewish” appearance.

The policeman threatened Falter with arrest citing “a breach of peace with all these other people” and told him he was not safe on the streets of London.

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 presence would “antagonise” crowds and lead to him being attacked.

Falter told the policeman: “I’m just a Jew in London trying to cross the road”.

The officer responded: “You are quite openly Jewish. This is a pro-Palestinian march. I am not accusing you of anything, but I am worried about the reaction to your presence.”

Later in the video, Falter was threatened with arrest if he did not leave the area: “There’s a unit of people [police officers] here now and 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, because you are causing a breach of peace with all these other people, you will be arrested.”

One anti-Israel protester told Falter, “The police ain’t going to help you in this scenario” and threatened to follow and film him.

Robert Largan, the MP for High Peak, Derbyshire, shared the video and wrote: “This is beyond appalling.”

Lord Ian Austin called the scenes “completely unacceptable”.

In a statement on CAA’s social media, Falter said he did not blame individual officers.

“These officers are being put in impossible positions week in week out, they’re being asked to police huge protests with very few officers where there is all sorts of criminality on display from racism to glorification of terrorism and even violence”.

Falter has called on supporters to walk with him during another mass anti-Israel rally in London on 27 April. “Enough is enough. It is time for a major change,” he said.

"We are asking you, Jewish or not, to stand up for the tolerance and decency of which this country is so rightly proud, simply by going for a walk.”

A spokesperson for the Met 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 and discuss with anyone who wishes to organise a march or protest ahead of 27 April.”

Falter said his planned walk as a “quite openly Jewish” man is not a protest and he is not seeking any confrontation.

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