Who is Gideon Falter, vice chairman of pro-Israel charity JNF UK?

Who is Gideon Falter, vice chairman of pro-Israel charity JNF UK?
Falter made headlines in the UK after a policeman said he was 'openly Jewish' near a pro-Palestinian march. Who is he and what do we know about the incident?
4 min read
24 April, 2024
Gideon Falter is a vice chairman of pro-Israel charity JNF UK and chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism [Guy Smallman/Getty-archive (16 October 2023)]

Gideon Falter recently made headlines in the UK after a police officer in London said he was "openly Jewish".

The incident took place near a pro-Palestinian rally in the capital on 13 April with London's Metropolitan Police Service later apologising for the remark.

Falter, a vice chairman of pro-Israel charity JNF UK and chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), said he had been "on a walkabout around London".

"You are quite openly Jewish," the police officer, a sergeant, told him in footage CAA posted to social media platform X.

"This is a pro-Palestinian march. I'm not accusing you of anything, but I'm worried about the reaction to your presence."

Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley told The Guardian newspaper that a "couple of turns of phrase were clumsy and offensive" but the "wider actions and intent of the officer were professional".

He said the policeman would be permitted to work at demonstrations again and would face no punishment.

However, Falter has called for Rowley to resign.

In the video posted by CAA, an officer told Falter he would either be escorted out of the area so he could "go about [his] business" or be arrested if he remained because he was allegedly "causing a breach of peace".

While the officers' faces had been blurred in the footage, the policeman who delivered this warning appeared to be different from the one who called Falter "openly Jewish".

'Totally different encounter'

But while former Met Police Chief Superintendent Dal Babu told the BBC the "openly Jewish" remark was "not acceptable", he said he had seen a longer video of the situation on British broadcaster Sky News.

"It's a totally different encounter to the one that Mr Falter has reported," Babu said.

"What you see him doing is attempting to go against the march, trying to push past the officers. And I think for 13 minutes, the officers showed great restraint."

Babu added that he would have "been inclined to have arrested" Falter for "assault on a police officer" and "breach of the peace".

Falter told Sky News this was a "pretty outrageous thing to say", adding: "I was Jewish. I was crossing the street."

He denied assaulting a police officer.

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Babu subsequently reiterated his stance, alleging the footage depicted "common assault".

Channel 4, another British broadcaster, said it had seen encounters with other officers in different locations.

It showed video of one officer saying to Falter that he had been told "you keep running into protesters".

"That's not true," Falter replied.

Gideon Falter and the Campaign Against Antisemitism

Pro-Palestinian protesters have repeatedly marched through London on weekends following the start of Israel's war on Gaza in October, which has so far killed more than 34,000 people in the enclave.

CAA in November said on X that it had written to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan about alleged "criminality on recent marches through London".

"The marches clearly meet the threshold for a ban under section 13 of the Public Order Act, with @MetPoliceUK reinforced by the military if necessary," the organisation added.

Falter on Thursday called for the Met Police to either "curtail these marches or ban them all together".

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the organisers of the rallies, told Sky News that it was "entirely wrong" of the officer to suggest "Falter being visibly Jewish would be a provocation".

"That's actually a smear against people marching," Jamal said.

"The reality is that at every demonstration there are many hundreds of Jewish people joining us, many in an organised Jewish bloc declaring themselves to be Jewish. Their presence is always warmly welcome," he added.

Jamal said Falter was "trying to provoke a confrontation" and that he was engaged in a "counterprotest".

"Now [CAA is] using the tactic of coming to the marches trying to provoke an incident so that they can say there are scenes of disorder and therefore the marches cannot go ahead," Jamal said.

Falter, who called Jamal's comments "absolutely astonishing", said that he was not at the location of the march to counterprotest.

"I was not going to try and provoke something… what exactly does [Jamal] think I'm trying to provoke by being openly Jewish?" Falter said.

Jamal said that "the problem with Mr Falter's presence" was not "that he is openly Jewish".