Met Police says 'openly Jewish' term used in arrest threat was 'deeply regrettable'

Use of the words “openly Jewish” by a Metropolitan Police officer as he threatened to arrest a Jewish man near a pro-Palestine march was “deeply regrettable”, the force has said, in an apology to Jewish Londoners.

Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, was wearing a kippah skull cap when he was stopped from crossing the road near the demonstration in the Aldwych area of London on Saturday afternoon.

A video clip, which was posted on social media, showed Mr Falter being told by police that he was “quite openly Jewish” and causing a “breach of peace”.

Mr Falter, who said he was walking in the capital after attending synagogue and was not there to counter-protest, has since complained about the interaction, arguing that the Met is allowing “no-go zones for Jews”.

The force responded on Friday, with Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist saying the officer’s “poor” choice of words was “hugely regrettable”.

He said: “The video posted by the Campaign Against Antisemitism will further dent the confidence of many Jewish Londoners which is the opposite of what any of us want.

“The use of the term ‘openly Jewish’ by one of our officers is hugely regrettable.

“It’s absolutely not the basis on which we make decisions, it was a poor choice of words and while not intended, we know it will have caused offence to many. We apologise.”

But Campaign Against Antisemetism responded shortly afterwards, saying they “reject the Met’s narrative” believe they are being subjected to “appalling, abject victim blaming”.

They wrote on X: “It is the right of every Londoner, Jewish or not, to walk freely around the city. If police threaten Jews with arrest for doing so or consider the mere presence of Jews to be “provocative”, then the Met has decided wholesale to curtail the rights of Jews in order to appease lawless mobs.”

Since the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s response, the Met has issued a new statement, stressing that “being Jewish is not a provocation”.

The force alos apologised for causing offence with its previous statement.

The footage showed one police officer saying: “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.”

Another officer said: “There’s a unit of people here now.

“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 here because you are causing a breach of peace with all these other people, you will be arrested.”

The clip showed the officer saying that Mr Falter’s presence was “antagonising”.

Scotland Yard responded that it is aware of the footage and fully acknowledges “the worry it has caused”.

Mr Falter said: “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, which the police cannot guarantee.

“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.”

Mr Falter said he will be walking in London on April 27, adding that no part of the capital should be unsafe.

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in London last Saturday to call for a ceasefire and urge the Government to stop all arms sales to Israel.

Crowds waved Palestinian flags, chanted “free Palestine” and held signs calling for a “ceasefire now” and an end to arms sales.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “We are aware of this video and fully acknowledge the worry it has caused, not only to those featured, but also anyone who watches it, and will review the circumstances.

“We have always said that we recognise the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to be an issue of concern for many Londoners, and this includes the regular protests and marches in central London.

“Everyone has the right to travel throughout the capital in safety.

“We will meet with anyone who wishes to organise a march or protest ahead of April 27.”