Labour politician faces possible disciplinary action for shul security comments exposed by the JC

Jenny Rathbone apologised, saying her comments were 'insensitive' and left her open to 'accusations of intolerance'


The Labour politician who suggested the Jewish community had a “siege mentality” over security at synagogues now faces disciplinary action over her remarks.

Jenny Rathbone, the Welsh Labour Assembly member for Cardiff Central, apologised for her “insensitive” comments, adding they left her open to “accusations of intolerance.”

She also said she was “meeting one of my local Rabbis later today to apologise directly”.

As the JC revealed, Ms Rathbone was speaking during an event where she was asked about bolstered security at Cardiff United Synagogue amid growing antisemitism.

She said: "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 this."

She also suggested that the actions of the Israeli government where behind growing hostility towards British Jews.

But after she apologised, the Labour National Assembly Party said on Wednesday evening her "totally unacceptable" remarks had been passed to Labour's General Secretary for investigation.

“The Chief Whip is now considering what disciplinary action is available to the Labour Group and will bring the matter to the next meeting on Tuesday,” it added in a statement.

A recording of the comments, which are believed to have been made in or around November 2017, was leaked to the JC on Tuesday.

Listen to the recording of the event

In a statement released on Wednesday, Ms Rathbone said: “I accept the 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.

“I am meeting one of my local Rabbis later today to apologise directly.”

Ms Rathbone added that with rising levels of antisemitism across the west and following the Pittsburgh synagogue attack “no one can or should downplay the fears and concerns that many Jewish people are experiencing.”

She said she was “deeply sorry” that her remarks could have been misunderstood.

The former London Borough of Islington councillor added she hoped she would be able to “work closely with local Jewish community”  to “deepen my understands of their concerns and experiences”.

On Wednesday evening, Ms Rathbone’s comments were also condemned by Mark Drakeford who had enlisted her support for his campaign to become Welsh Labour leader.

Mr Drakeford said her remarks were “unacceptable” and said it was “right” she now faced an investigation .

The Jewish Labour Movement said Ms Rathbone was unfit to serve in Welsh Assembly and to remain a Labour Party member "that without “a full and unreserved apology”.

In a statement, the JLM said: "With antisemitism on the rise in the UK, Assembly Member Rathbone thinks it appropriate to blame her Jewish constituents for the racism they face.

"It shouldn't need saying that Jews do not suffer from a 'siege mentality' and are not responsible for the actions of the Israeli government in the Middle East.

"Without a full and unreserved apology and meeting with her local Jewish communities, the Jewish Labour Movement do not believe that Ms Rathbone is fit to serve as an Assembly Member, or to even be a member of the Labour Party."

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