Gideon Falter

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Gideon Falter is chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism UK (CAA), and former president of the University of Warwick Jewish/Israeli Society (JSoc).

Education

Falter graduated in law at the University of Warwick.[1]

Activities

Student politics

While at Warwick, Falter was president of the student Jewish/Israeli Society, or JSoc.[1] By his own account, he spent his time in office 'fighting Israel's corner',[2] whilst 'fighting off opposition within the Students‘ Union'.[1] For instance, under his leadership the JSoc campaigned for the anti-Zionist ultra Orthodox Jewish sect Neturei Karta to be banned from university events, and for students who had invited speakers from the group to be punished;[3] and in 2002, Falter helped defeat a student union motion for boycotting Israeli goods, which he branded 'racism'.[4]

He was subsequently elected the student union's Anti-Racism Officer and 'appointed to the Race and Religion Incident Review Panel of Warwickshire Police and West Midlands Police's Key Individuals Network'.[1] When a Warwick student union motion to twin with the student council of Birzeit University in the West Bank was rejected, Falter, in his capacity as student union anti-racism officer, praised the result as 'a major victory for tolerance and decency' on the grounds that many Birzeit union members were supporters of Hamas.[5]

In 2005, Falter stood unsuccessfully for president of the Union of Jewish Students.[6]

Rowan Laxton incident

In 2009, senior Foreign Office official Rowan Laxton was exercising in the gym when, hearing a news report about a farmer killed by Israeli armed forces, he allegedly exclaimed, '******* Israelis, ******* Jews'. Gideon Falter and William Lemaine were in the gym at the time, and complained to staff. Falter also 'tipped off the media' and testified against Laxton in court.[7] Laxton was suspended from his job[8] and in September 2009 was found guilty of racially aggravated public disorder at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court and fined.[9] On appeal (in effect, a re-trial) the following year, the conviction was overturned; Laxton resumed work at the Foreign Office.[10]

Campaign Against Antisemitism UK

In the summer of 2014 Falter helped to establish a new organisation, Campaign Against Antisemitism UK (CAA). In an account of his involvement, Falter describes having been outraged during Israel's 2014 Operation Protective Edge assault on Gaza by the British media's 'insistence on holding Israel to exceptional, impossible standards', which 'helped to feed the oldest hatred'. The result was that in Britain 'Israel's case was deliberately stifled', while expressing 'support for Israel was enough to make the disinterested "right thinking" mainstream of British society wince'. His discomfort grew, he says, when pro-Palestinian protestors did not object to some in their midst who chanted antisemitic slogans. He was dismayed to find that the antisemites, at rallies and online, 'were not arrested'. At this point, Joseph Cohen, Darren Borg, Justin Chorn and Jordan Jay created a Facebook group, Campaign Against Antisemitism. When the Tricycle Theatre then decided to boycott the UK Jewish Film Festival (which was funded by the Israeli state), Rupert Nathan launched a Facebook campaign, which 'soon joined forces' with the CAA. Nathan Hopstein and Mandy Blumenthal also 'entered the fray'.

Falter sent the group a Facebook message with advice, and they admitted him as a member. He called in Jonathan Sacerdoti as a 'media man', and within a week, they had 'developed a plan': to call for 'zero tolerance enforcement of existing laws against anti-Semitism by the police'. According to Falter, the group and the subsequent rally outside the Royal Courts of Justice it organised was set up by a 'group of like-minded people who did not know each other just a month before'.[11]

As of January 2015, Falter was listed at the CAA's Chairman.[1]

Affiliations

Contact details

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 CAA, 'About Us'; accessed: 15 January 2015, at 7.24pm.
  2. Gideon Falter, 'Let’s turn fear of anti-Semitism into fight', Jewish News (3 September, 2014).
  3. Gaby Wine, 'J-Socs want ban on Neturei Karta', Jewish Chronicle (7 March, 2003).
  4. Gaby Wine and Rachel S. Harris, 'Anti-Israel motions defeated', Jewish Chronicle (6 December, 2002).
  5. 'Twin rejected', Jewish Chronicle (4 February, 2005).
  6. 'UJS election', Jewish Chronicle (25 February, 2005); 'UJS’s new chair calls for activism', Jewish Chronicle (4 March, 2005).
  7. 'British diplomat suspended for cursing Israel: I'm not racist', Ynet (17 September, 2009); cf. Geoffrey K. Pullum, 'The diplomat, the bishop, the bomber, and the fruit bat', Language Log (25 November, 2010).
  8. Gillian Meron MP, 'Rowan Laxton', Hansard Column 1206W (27 February, 2009); via Denry, 'Rowan Laxton - Undiplomatic' (18 October, 2009).
  9. 'Civil servant fined for racist outburst against Jews', Daily Telegraph (24 September, 2009).
  10. Geoffrey K. Pullum, 'The diplomat, the bishop, the bomber, and the fruit bat', Language Log (25 November, 2010); Leon Symons, 'Foreign Office man wins appeal against race abuse claim', Jewish Chronicle (25 March, 2010).
  11. Gideon Falter, 'Let’s turn fear of anti-Semitism into fight', Jewish News (3 September, 2014).