London police to meet with Jewish leaders as protests spark concerns about the safety of Jews

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LONDON (AP) — London’s police commissioner will meet with senior members of the Jewish community on Monday after the force bungled its apology for suggesting an “openly Jewish” man’s presence along the route of a pro-Palestinian march risked provoking the demonstrators.

Amid calls for his resignation, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley is also expected to meet with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Home Secretary James Cleverly, who together are responsible for law and order in the city.

“We remain focused on doing everything possible to ensure Jewish Londoners feel safe in this city,” the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement Sunday. “We know recent events and some of our recent actions have contributed to concerns felt by many.”

The meeting comes as London police struggle to manage tensions sparked by the Israel-Hamas war, with some Jewish residents saying they feel threatened by repeated pro-Palestinian marches through the streets of the U.K. capital.

The marches have been largely peaceful. However, many demonstrators accuse Israel of genocide and a small number have shown support for Hamas, the group that led the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and which has been banned by the U.K. government as a terrorist organization.

The Metropolitan Police force has deployed thousands of officers during each of the dozen major marches as it seeks to protect the rights of the pro-Palestinian protesters and prevent clashes with counterdemonstrators and Jewish residents.

In addition to meeting with leaders of the Jewish community, senior police officers wrote to the man at the center of the latest controversy, offering to meet with him to apologize and discuss what more could be done to “ensure Jewish Londoners feel safe.″

Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, was wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap when he was stopped by police while trying to cross a street in central London as demonstrators filed past on April 13.

One officer told Falter he was worried that the man’s “quite openly Jewish” appearance could provoke a reaction from the protesters, according to video posted on social media by the campaign group. A second officer then told Falter he would be arrested if he refused to be escorted out of the area, because he would be “causing a breach of the peace.”

Metropolitan Police initially apologized for the language the officer used in describing Falter’s appearance, but said counterdemonstrators had to be aware “that their presence is provocative.”

The department later deleted that apology from its social media accounts and issued a second statement.

“In an effort to make a point about the policing of protest we caused further offense,” the force said on Friday. “This was never our intention. … Being Jewish is not a provocation. Jewish Londoners must be able to feel safe in the city.”

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