1. ITV Report

Labour AM 'deeply sorry' for comments about Jewish community

Jenny Rathbone AM represents Cardiff Central in the Assembly. Credit: PA

Labour AM Jenny Rathbone has said she is "deeply sorry" for comments made about the Jewish community in a leaked recording.

In the recording leaked to the Jewish Chronicle, Ms Rathbone said: "The fact that the Jewish synagogue in Cyncoed is behind this fortress is really uncomfortable". She added "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".

The Cardiff Central AM made the comments at an event in November 2017 in response to a question about increased security at the Cardiff United Synagogue.

Jenny Rathbone was elected as an AM in 2011. Credit: Labour Party/PA Images

Ms Rathbone is also heard saying she believed hate crimes against the Jewish community were a reaction to "the failure to come to a peace settlement around Palestine and Israel". She said Israel's behaviour "drives peoples to be hostile to the Jewish community in this country".

In a statement issued today the Labour AM said "no one can or should downplay the fears and concerns that many Jewish people are experiencing". She added "I had no intention of doing so and I am deeply sorry that I did".

In her statement, Jenny Rathbone said she accepted the comments were "insensitive" and had "laid [her] open to accusations of intolerance".

President Marie van der Zyl of the Board of Deputies of British Jews called Ms Rathbone's comments "inexcusable".

Responding to the leaked recording, a spokesperson for the National Assembly Labour Party said the comments had been passed on to the General Secretary of the Party for investigation.

These remarks are totally unacceptable, and the comments have been passed to the General Secretary of the Labour Party 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.

– Spokesperson, National Assembly Labour Party

Labour leader hopeful Mark Drakeford said in a statement the "comments were unacceptable" and that "it’s right" Ms Rathbone "has been referred to the Labour Party for investigation."

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Minister for Faith, Mohammad Asghar AM, said the comments were "flippant and ignorant of anti-Semitism in the UK".

A spokesperson for Plaid Cymru spokesperson said "to blame Jewish communities for the actions of the Israeli government is inexcusable. Anti-Semitism is a very real problem and to suggest it is imaginary is irresponsible".