DISGRACED WELSH ASSEMBLY MEMBER READMITTED
Politician allowed back into Welsh Labour weeks after being suspended for suggesting UK Jews are to blame for antisemitism
THE WELSH Labour politician who was suspended by her colleagues after the JC published a leaked recording of her saying her local Jewish community’s security fears could be “in their own heads” has 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 the presence of security at a Cardiff synagogue was the result of “siege mentalities”.
She still faces a possible further investigation from the UK Labour Party — although it is unclear whether a probe has actually been launched.
Ms Rathbone had been a key supporter of Mark Drakeford, the pro-Corbyn First Minister of Wales who was elected Welsh Labour leader on December 13.
It has emerged that Mr Drakeford led calls for Ms Rathbone to be readmitted into the group following claims she was left “very distressed” by her suspension.
The Welsh Labour Group held a meeting before Christmas at which a decision was taken to readmit her — even though the UK Labour Party had not concluded its own investigation into Ms Rathbone’s remarks.
During the meeting only three Labour politicians spoke against allowing the Cardiff Central assembly member back into the group — Alun Davies, Lynne Neagle and Vaughan
Gething. It is not known how many of the Welsh Labour Group attended the meeting but the party has 29 members in total within the Welsh Assembly.
A source told the JC: “Most people at the meeting seemed more concerned about Jenny’s wellbeing than they did about the offensive comments she had made against the Jewish community.
“Mark [Drakeford] and almost the entire group, barring Alun, Lynne and Vaughan, seemed determined to get her back as quickly as they could.”
Ms Rathbone sparked widespread fury after the leaked audio of her controversial comments, 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… [has] become one of these, you know, fortresses 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”.
In a statement issued after the JC published the story, Ms Rathbone 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.”