Wales politics

Labour's Jenny Rathbone suspended over Jewish comments

Jenny Rathbone
Image caption Jenny Rathbone had apologised for the remarks

A Labour AM criticised for making "extremely offensive" remarks about Jewish people has been suspended from her party in the assembly.

In a recording that emerged last week Jenny Rathbone suggested Jewish people's security fears could be "in their own heads".

Ms Rathbone, who is suspended pending a Labour probe, has apologised.

"I hope the matter can be resolved as soon as possible," the Cardiff Central AM said.

Last week the Jewish Chronicle published a recording of Jenny Rathbone in which she also said hostile behaviour towards Jewish people was driven by the behaviour of the Israeli government.

Jewish leaders had described the remarks, made at a meeting in her constituency a year ago, as "inexcusable."

A National Assembly Labour group spokesman said: "Jenny Rathbone was today suspended from the National Assembly Labour group pending a decision by the UK Labour Party under its disciplinary procedures."

In the recording, Ms Rathbone said: "...the fact that the Jewish synagogue in Cyncoed is, is become one of these, you know, fortress is really uncomfortable.

"How much of it is for real and how much of it is in their own heads is really hard for an outsider to judge, but I think siege mentalities are also part of it."

'Insensitive'

Cardiff Rabbi Michoel Rose said last week that the comments "seemed to imply that the Jewish community in this country was to blame for violence and hatred in this country was extremely offensive".

The Welsh Conservatives tweeted: "Let's hope the Labour Party change a habit of a lifetime and that appropriate action is actually taken against their assembly member for her troubling remarks."

In a statement last Wednesday Ms Rathbone said: "I accept that comments I made last year were insensitive and have laid me open to accusations of intolerance.

"I've always appreciated the good relationship I've had with my local Jewish community and I apologise for any upset that my remarks may have caused to individual constituents and the wider Jewish community.

"With levels of anti-Semitism on the rise in many western countries, and following the devastating attack on Pittsburgh synagogue, no one can or should downplay the fears and concerns that many Jewish people are experiencing.

"I had no intention of doing so and I am deeply sorry that I did.

"It is also not acceptable to suggest that the Jewish community are responsible for the actions of the Israeli government."

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