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20 Apr, 2024 17:15

Met Police apologize twice after calling man ‘openly Jewish’

An activist prevented from crossing a street near a pro-Palestinian rally has accused the force of “victim blaming”
Met Police apologize twice after calling man ‘openly Jewish’

The Metropolitan Police has issued not one, but two apologies over a video that surfaced online showing one of its officers telling a campaigner against anti-Semitism that he could not cross a road near a pro-Palestinian rally due to being “openly Jewish.”

The incident happened last Saturday as tens of thousands gathered in London to demand a ceasefire in Gaza and urge the British government to stop arms sales to Israel.

In the clip, a policeman was captured blocking the path of Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, who says he was returning from synagogue and was wearing a traditional Jewish kippah skull cap.

“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,” the officer is heard telling Falter. Another officer in the footage told the activist that his presence in the area was “antagonizing.”

Falter later claimed that he had no intention of staging a counter-protest, but was just going about his business. “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,” he said.

A few days later, assistant police commissioner Matt Twist issued an apology on X (formerly Twitter), saying that the use of the phrase “openly Jewish” was “hugely regrettable.”

At the same time, Twist said that there is a “new trend” of those opposing pro-Palestinian marches appearing along their route to show their stance, “knowing their presence is provocative.”

However, Falter was dissatisfied with the apology and accused the force of “victim- blaming.”

The Metropolitan Police then deleted the initial message and issued a new apology on Friday. It reiterated that the use of the term “openly Jewish” was “hugely regrettable.”

The force also said that “in an effort to make a point about the policing of protest we have caused further offense. This was never our intention.”

“Being Jewish is not a provocation. Jewish Londoners must be able to feel safe in this city. Our commitment to protecting the public extends to all communities across London,” the statement read.

The death toll from Israel’s airstrikes and ground offensive in Gaza over the past six months has surpassed 34,000, according to the enclave’s health ministry. The campaign was launched in response to a raid into Israel by Palestinian armed group Hamas on October 7, in which at least 1,200 were killed and 250 taken hostage.

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