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 Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY LEE HARPIN PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR

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.”

PHOTO: PA

Apol­o­gised: Rath­bone

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.