Labour's Jenny Rathbone, suspended for questioning synagogue security, is quietly let back in

The JC published a recording of her saying her local shul's fears could be 'in their heads'


The Welsh Labour politician who was suspended by her colleagues, after the JC published leaked audio of her saying her local Jewish community's security fears could be “in their own heads”, has been been allowed to return just seven weeks later.

Jenny Rathbone, who sits on the Welsh Assembly, was "readmitted to the group at the start of the spring term" after being suspended on November 20, seven days after the JC published the recording in which she said security at a Cardiff synagogue was the result of "siege mentalities".

She still faces investigation by the UK Labour Party. A party source said the lifting of Ms Rathbone's suspension was a matter for the Welsh Labour Assembly Group and that the investigation was an "entirely separate" matter.

The source added that Labour’s complaints procedures are confidential and the could not  give a running commentary on individual cases.

Ms Rathbone had been a key supporter of Mark Drakeford, the pro-Jeremy Corbyn First Minister of Wales who was elected Welsh Labour leader on December 13.

Mr Drakeford has subsequently brought in a new team including new Chief Whip Jane Hutt.

Cardiff Central assembly member Ms Rathbone sparked widespread fury after the recording, which was made in 2017, became public in November.

She could be heard offering her thoughts about extra security measures at the Cyncoed Synagogue in Cardiff in response to a question from the audience.

She 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.”

Discussing an increase in antisemitic hate crime, she added: "I think it's the failure to come to a peace settlement around Palestine and Israel. 

"I think that the Israeli government's behaviour in occupying Palestinian lands... I think that's what drives people to be hostile to the Jewish community in this country and I think the Jewish community has a responsibility to try and promote peace in the Middle East."

Jewish leaders described the remarks as "inexcusable”.

Cardiff Rabbi Michoel Rose said the comments "seemed to imply that the Jewish community in this country was to blame for violence and hatred in this country" and called them "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 issued after the JC published the story, Ms Rathbone said: "I accept that comments I made last year were insensitive and have laid me open to accusations of intolerance."

She said she had "no intention" of downplaying security fears with the Jewish community and was "deeply sorry that I did".

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

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