London Police Apologize for Implying Jewish Man's Presence at Pro-Palestinian March Was Provocative

London police apologize after threatening to arrest a Jewish man for his "openly Jewish" appearance at a pro-Palestinian march, highlighting the challenges of policing tensions and the importance of ensuring safety for all.

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Muhammad Jawad
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London Police Apologize for Implying Jewish Man's Presence at Pro-Palestinian March Was Provocative

London Police Apologize for Implying Jewish Man's Presence at Pro-Palestinian March Was Provocative

The London Metropolitan Police Service has issued two apologies after officers threatened to arrest a Jewish man, Gideon Falter, for his "quite openly Jewish" appearance at a pro-Palestinian march. The police initially said Falter's presence risked provoking the demonstrators, but later clarified that "being Jewish is not a provocation" and that Jewish Londoners must feel safe in the city.

Falter, the chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, was wearing a kippah (traditional Jewish skullcap) when he was stopped by police while trying to cross the road near the demonstration. An officer told him that his "presence" and being "openly Jewish" was a concern due to the potential reaction from protesters.

The police initially defended their actions, with a senior officer stating that Falter's decision to publish footage of the incident would "further dent the confidence of many Jewish Londoners." However, the Met later deleted that statement and apologized for causing further offense, acknowledging that "being Jewish is not a provocation."

Falter called for the resignation of the Met's commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, over the incident, which he said was the "inevitable conclusion of six months of inertia" by police in dealing with the frequent pro-Palestine protests. The Home Office also stated that being Jewish "should never be seen as provocative."

Why this matters: The episode highlights the challenges the police face in policing the boiling tensions surrounding the war in Gaza, with some Jewish residents feeling threatened by repeated pro-Palestinian marches in London. It also underscores the importance of ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their religious or ethnic background, feel safe and protected in exercising their rights to freedom of movement and expression.

In response to the incident, Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed concern over the police's handling of the situation, stating that "being Jewish is not a provocation" and that everyone should feel safe going about their business in London. The Campaign Against Antisemitism has called for Londoners to exercise their right to walk wherever they choose on April 27, when another pro-Palestinian march is scheduled. The police have offered to meet with the group to discuss ways to ensure the event is policed safely.

Key Takeaways

  • London police apologized for threatening to arrest a Jewish man at pro-Palestinian march
  • Police initially said man's "openly Jewish" appearance risked provoking protesters
  • Police later acknowledged "being Jewish is not a provocation" and Jewish Londoners must feel safe
  • Mayor and Campaign Against Antisemitism condemned police actions, called for ensuring safety
  • Police offered to meet with Campaign Against Antisemitism to discuss policing of future marches