Outrage after British cop threatens to arrest head of antisemitism watchdog group for being ‘openly Jewish’ near anti-Israel rally

The group’s CEO was threatened with arrest at an anti-Israel protest because his walking on the street was “provocative.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An antisemitism watchdog called for the ouster of the chief of London’s Metropolitan police Saturday after its head was threatened with arrest for being on a street where an anti-Israel protest was taking place.

“Sir Mark Rowley must resign or be removed by the Mayor of London, @SadiqKhan, and the Home Secretary, @JamesCleverly.” said Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) head Gideon Falter in a lengthy post on X.

“What happened to me was the inevitable conclusion of six months of inertia and contextualising crimes away by a Met that has curtailed the rights of law-abiding Londoners in order to [appease] mobs rife with anti-Jewish racists and terrorist sympathisers,” he wrote.

“Those protests have made our city centres into no-go zones for Jews every weekend for six months now,” he added, instead of Rowley “using his powers under the Public Order Act 1986” to stop them.

As a result, “countless antisemitic hate crimes and terrorism offences have been perpetrated in broad daylight on our streets during marches, and those responsible have walked free as his vastly outnumbered officers are powerless to intervene and some frontline officers have even been hospitalised.”

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“It is time for him to go. Enough is enough,” Falter concluded.

On Saturday, April 13th, when Falter, wearing a skullcap, was passing by a group of demonstrators after synagogue services, he was approached by a policeman who told him he should leave because his “openly Jewish” appearance would “antagonize” the crowd and he could be attacked.

When Falter responded that “I’m just a Jew in London trying to cross the road,” the officer answered that he wasn’t accusing him of anything.

A few minutes later, however, Falter was told, “There’s a unit of people 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.”

After a video clip of the incident was publicized, Rowley’s Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said that the officer’s use of the term “openly Jewish” was “hugely regrettable.”

The activist, however was angered by what he called the “appalling, abject victim blaming” that followed. Twist had immediately gone on to call Falter’s presence “provocative, and saying that by making public what had happened, I had put a ‘dent in the confidence of many Jewish Londoners.’”

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Backlash over the half-hearted apology was fast and furious.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, former home secretary Suella Braverman echoed Falter’s assessment of Rowley’s “litany of failure and a wholesale refusal to change,” and backed the call for his resignation.

Government officials were highly critical but stopped short of calling for a personnel change.

Minister Chris Philp, who said he would discuss the incident with Rowley because “No-one should be told their religion is provocative, nor an innocent person threatened with arrest solely because of someone else’s anticipated unreasonable reaction.”

Lord Walney, the government’s adviser on political violence, went further, charging that the police displayed “institutional antisemitism.”

The incident forced Scotland Yard to delete the original statement and admit that “Being Jewish is not a provocation. Jewish Londoners must be able to feel safe in this city.”

Falter said that his main complaint wasn’t against any individual policemen, who “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.”