British Labour Party suspends politician over remarks about Jewish people

The United Kingdom's Labour Party suspended Jenny Rathbone, a member of the National Assembly for Wales, over “extremely offensive” comments she made regarding Jewish people’s security concerns.

Audio that emerged last week revealed Rathbone saying that Jewish people’s fears for their safety could be “in their own heads.” 

The Jewish Chronicle reported last week that Rathbone questioned the necessity for heightened security measures at a Cardiff synagogue, stating, "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."

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Cardiff Rabbi Michoel Rose said last week that the comment which “seemed to imply that the Jewish community in this country was to blame for violence and hatred in this country was extremely offensive,” according to BBC

“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,” Rathbone said in a statement to BBC last week.

“With levels of anti-Semitism on the rise in many western countries, and following the devastating attack on Pittsburgh synagogue, no one can or should downplay the fears and concerns that many Jewish people are experiencing.” 

According to the Jewish Chronicle, Rathbone suggested rising anti-Semitic views in Britain were the result of “the failure to come to a peace settlement around Palestine and Israel.”

People's attitude toward Israel “drives peoples to be hostile to the Jewish community in this country,” Rathbone said, according to the outlet, adding, "I think the Jewish community has a responsibility to try and promote peace in the Middle East." 

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has also faced accusations of harboring anti-Semitic views for his association with a prominent Holocaust denier and for describing the militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas as his "friends."