(AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Pro Palestinian UK

Officers told the man he would be arrested if he remained in the vicinity ‘because your presence here is antagonizing them.’

By David Isaac, JNS

The U.K. Board of Deputies of British Jews will meet later this week with Mark Rowley, commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, after requesting an urgent meeting “to repair a grievous loss of confidence” over his mishandling of anti-Israel protests in the capital, The Sunday Times reported.

“The Metropolitan Police have made a series of high-profile errors in their responses to these demonstrations,” the Board of Deputies said after the leader of a group that fights antisemitism was stopped from crossing a street by a Metropolitan Police officer for appearing “quite openly Jewish.”

“The entirely avoidable mistakes have had a devastating effect on the previously high level of trust held by the U.K.’s Jewish community in the police,” the Board of Deputies said.

On April 13, Gideon Falter, who heads the U.K.-based Campaign Against Antisemitism was prevented by a policeman from crossing a street as an anti-Israel protest passed.

“This is a pro-Palestinian march. I am not accusing you of anything, but I am worried about the reaction to your presence,” the officer told him in a video Falter’s group posted to X on April 18.

“I don’t want to stay here. I want to leave,” Falter explained to the officer, who nevertheless blocked him when he attempted to get by.

Another officer told Falter he would be arrested if he remained in the vicinity “because your presence here is antagonizing them.”

“The march came towards us and after a few minutes the crowd got thicker, people stopping and shouting abuse at us: ‘Disgusting,’ ‘lock them up,’ ‘Nazis,’ ‘scum,’” Falter wrote in the London Times on April 20.

“There were people there who were expressing as loudly as they could how much they hated me for looking Jewish, and not a single person was saying: ‘You shouldn’t do that,’ or ‘I disapprove,’” he wrote.

“‘By the actions of the Metropolitan Police, it’s not just that central London is a ‘no-go zone’ for Jews, as has been said previously, but a police-enforced Jew-free zone,” Falter wrote.

Falter had been with a group returning from the synagogue. He was wearing a yarmulke and carrying a bag, decorated with Stars of David, in which he carried his prayer shawl.

“We were not wearing anything like stickers or badges. We didn’t have placards or signs. We weren’t chanting slogans, or engaging with protesters. We weren’t part of any kind of protest or counterprotest,” Falter said in the video.

“We were just walking as Jews, as free Londoners, supposedly able to go wherever we wanted to; except we weren’t able to go wherever we wanted.”

Falter, who said he sympathized with frontline officers, placed the blame squarely on Police Commissioner Rowley, whom he accused of gaslighting London’s Jews, telling them it was “perfectly safe” even “when anti-Israel protests course through London.”

“Notwithstanding the antisemitic placards, the genocidal slogans, the glorification of Hamas, the Islamist flags, the swastikas—notwithstanding all of that—it’s still safe to be openly Jewish on the streets during these anti-Israel protests, that’s what we’re told. And yet that’s not true in practice,” Falter said.

He called for Rowley to “be held to account” by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Secretary of State for the Home Department James Cleverly, noting that every week for six months, protesters have marched through London voicing “full-throated support for Hamas” and waving antisemitic placards and swastikas.

“It’s enough,” Falter said.

Eventually, the police took Falter and his group down a side street. Once his group was reunited, they were followed for “about half a mile by police officers checking that we did not return,” Falter said.

Falter invited London’s Jews to join him on April 27 for a protest walk around London. “We will walk wherever we want, as Londoners who are free in our home city,” he said.