Why can’t the police admit these are hate marches?

The ‘openly Jewish’ scandal shames the Metropolitan Police.

Lauren Smith

Topics UK

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You might have thought an officer being caught on camera, warning a man that being ‘openly Jewish’ in the vicinity of a ‘pro-Palestine’ demo could be grounds for his arrest, would have given the Metropolitan Police some pause for thought. Perhaps it might be time for the Met to admit that their handling of the ‘pro-Palestine’ protests in London has wrecked their credibility with many Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. But you’d be wrong. Instead, the Met have mostly doubled down and have even praised the officer who threatened to arrest a man for the ‘crime’ of being Jewish.

Last week, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) released a shocking video of its CEO, Gideon Falter, being threatened with arrest if he refused to stay away from one of the weekly Palestine demos. In footage posted to social media, an officer can be seen telling Falter that his presence as a visibly Jewish man was ‘antagonising’ the protesters.

This week, the Met issued the bare minimum of apologies for how Falter was treated. Speaking to the Guardian, Met commissioner Mark Rowley admitted that the officer who confronted Falter used ‘a couple of turns of phrase [that] were clumsy and offensive’. Nevertheless, Rowley went on to praise the officer for his supposedly ‘professional’ conduct. Worse still, Rowley even tried to give himself a pat on the back for how the force as a whole has handled the protests since the 7 October attack by Hamas on Israel.

Rowley then hit out at his critics. He claimed that some Jewish groups have been attempting to ‘set up’ officers using ‘fakery’ in order to ‘try and prove police are not operating neutrally without fear or favour’ (although he emphasised that he was not specifically accusing Falter of deliberately provoking officers in this way). In Rowley’s eyes, these ‘set-ups’ somehow invalidate the clear evidence that the Met are failing to be impartial.

Many on social media have agreed with him. His defenders have since pointed to the existence of an extended video of the confrontation between Falter and the police. In this, an officer says that Falter had deliberately walked into the middle of the march and was ‘looking to try and antagonise’ protesters. It also shows that Falter repeatedly refused to be moved on when asked over a long period – the supposed legal justification for threatening him with arrest. With this added ‘context’, Dal Babu, former Scotland Yard chief superintendent, said that he would have ‘been inclined’ to arrest Falter if he had been at the scene. Meanwhile, Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and organiser of the march, similarly accused Falter of attempting to ‘provoke a confrontation’.

Of course, none of this really gets to the nub of the matter. Given that it is Falter’s role as head of the CAA to highlight and combat anti-Semitism, it is fair to assume that his encounter with the march and the police was not entirely accidental. In fact, Falter probably expected the kind of response he got. But, ultimately, why should that matter? His Jewishness would never have been such a provocation, one apparently so serious as to warrant him being moved on and even arrested, if there were not an underlying problem with these marches and how they are policed. Indeed, Falter’s video proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that anti-Semites are well represented at these supposed peace marches – and that there is a grotesque double standard in the Met’s policing methods.

It’s no wonder that the Met are too embarrassed to acknowledge this. The CAA video shows clear as day that it’s fair to describe these demos as ‘hate marches’ – an accusation that Rowley has repeatedly gone out of his way to deny on the organisers’ behalf. After all, if these weekly protests are not really hotbeds of anti-Semitism, then why did an officer fear that the crowd would be aggravated by the mere presence of a kippah-wearing Jewish man? As the video shows, the officer was right to fear this. The mob can be seen in glorious technicolour screaming ‘Nazi’ and ‘scum’ at Falter.

The Met are not just ignoring or denying the intolerance on display at these marches. No, they are actively appeasing it. Instead of protecting London’s Jews, the force has gone out of its way to protect the feelings of anti-Semites and Islamists.

This is no exaggeration. In October of last year, the CAA drove several billboard vans around London showing the names, ages and pictures of children who were taken hostage by Hamas in Israel. When they reached Parliament Square, because a pro-Palestine demo was nearby, police officers told the CAA to turn the screens off and to leave central London – or else face charges for ‘breach of the peace’.

Only a few days later, two police officers were filmed tearing down posters of the kidnapped victims of 7 October in Edgware, north London. Responding to the backlash on social media, the Met claimed that the posters were taken down to ‘avoid any further increase in community tension’. Let’s not beat around the bush here. This is a euphemistic way of saying that these posters could cause offence. Of course, the only people who are likely to be angered or provoked by these images of Jewish suffering are either Islamists or anti-Semites. This is who the Met are trying to appease.

Worse still, some in the Met seem to be acting as a freelance public-relations department for Islamists and other cranks. Earlier this month, a police officer was filmed refusing to say whether a literal swastika might be an anti-Semitic symbol. Most infamously, when members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a now proscribed Islamist-terror group, gathered in London to chant for ‘jihad’ against Israel, the Met claimed in an official statement that there was nothing untoward going on. Jihad could have a ‘number of meanings’, the police assured us – most of them peaceful, apparently.

Now, none of this is to say that the pro-Palestine marches should be banned at a stroke, or that nutcases who chant ‘jihad’ or wave swastika placards should be locked up. Even the most offensive and bigoted views should be protected as free speech. But when the Met continually make excuses for Islamist extremists, and threaten actual anti-racist campaigners with arrest, they have clearly taken a side.

This situation is totally unacceptable. The two-tiered policing of London’s protests is now undeniable. The Met and Mark Rowley should be ashamed.

Lauren Smith is a staff writer at spiked.

Picture by: YouTube.

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Topics UK


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