Apology Issued by Met Police Affirming Being Jewish Not Provocative

Apology Issued by Met Police Affirming Being Jewish Not Provocative
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London (Parliament News) – Controversy arises as a Met officer implies Jewish presence provokes at a pro-Palestine march. Apologies follow, affirming being Jewish is not provocative. Mixed reactions ensue.

After a row over the policing of a pro-Palestine march, the government said being Jewish shouldn’t be viewed as provocative. In a video unleashed by Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), the charity’s chief executive, Gideon Falter, who was sporting a kippah skull cap, was implied by a Met officer at a pro-Palestine march last Saturday:

 “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.” He later stated Falter’s presence was “antagonising” and that he would be escorted out of the area for “causing a breach of peace”.

In another clip unleashed by the CAA on Friday night, Falter was described by the same officer could not crossing the road while the march was continued, with his faith being “part of the factor”. 

On Friday, the Met gave two statements. The first articulated the officer’s “poor” choice of words was “hugely regrettable”. It also stated: “In recent weeks we’ve noticed a new trend emerge, with those fighting to the main protests appearing along the route to voice their views. The fact that those who do this often film themselves while doing so implies they must know that their presence is provocative.” 

The CAA called this assertion “abject victim-blaming”. The Met retracted that statement and gave a new one hours later that apologised and said “Being Jewish is not a provocation”.

How Did the Home Office Respond?

On Saturday a spokesperson for the Home Office stated: “We welcome the Met police’s apology, and recognise the complexities of policing fast-moving public protests, but simply being Jewish – or of any other race or religion – should never be seen as provocative. Anyone of any religion should be free to go about their lives and feel safe doing so.”

It is understood the home secretary, James Cleverly, has reported to the Met. The Home Office offered no facts about Cleverly’s letter, saying it was a private communication.

In comments filmed after the happening, Falter claimed the marches were “no-go zones for Jews”.

He stated: “Despite being told repeatedly that London is safe for Jews when these marches are taking place, my interactions with police officers last Saturday show that the Met believes that being openly Jewish will antagonise the anti-Israel marchers and that Jews need protection.”

Are Pro-Palestine Marches Safe Spaces for Jews?

Marches scheduled by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign have attracted tens and hundreds of thousands of people to central London to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people since October. 

The demonstrations have been largely peaceful. The media outlet openDemocracy reported that 36 people who observed pro-Palestine rallies last year had been charged with an offence and that the detention rate at these marches was lower than at the most recent Glastonbury festival.

What’s the Perception of Jewish Participation?

A group of Holocaust survivors and the children of those who endured it said they opposed Falter’s comments. In a statement, the group, who have been an operational presence at pro-Palestine marches, stated: “We experienced nothing but warmth and solidarity from the pro-Palestine demonstrators and not a hint of antisemitism.

“Our group was ‘openly Jewish’ in that we all wore placards saying that, as descendants of Holocaust survivors, we oppose the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Every major pro-Palestine demonstration in London has included a large Jewish bloc, which has received nothing but support and warmth from their fellow demonstrators. Claims that these protests are no-go zones for Jews are completely untrue.”

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.