Wales politics

'No respect for Jewish feelings' in the Labour Party

Jenny Rathbone
Image caption Jenny Rathbone says she has "reflected deeply" on her mistakes

Labour's handling of an anti-Semitism investigation lacked consideration for the Jewish community, Welsh Jewish representatives have said.

AM Jenny Rathbone was investigated after suggesting security fears of Jewish people at a Cardiff synagogue could be "in their own heads".

Ms Rathbone apologised and was given a formal warning, but details of the investigation have not been published.

Labour said it takes all complaints of anti-Semitism "extremely seriously".

The party has been criticised for not publishing details of its investigation or how it reached its conclusions.

"We're concerned at the lack of transparency," said Laurence Kahn, chairman of the South Wales Jewish Representative Council.

The Cardiff Central AM was suspended from the Labour assembly group and referred for investigation by the UK Labour Party after her remarks were revealed by the Jewish Chronicle in November.

But she was readmitted to the group before the party investigation was complete.

The investigation has now concluded and Ms Rathbone has been given a formal warning and ordered to undergo training.

"The question is: are they trying to satisfy the Jewish community and deal with our concerns?" Mr Kahn asked.

"And if the answer to that is yes then obviously they ought to be giving us the information that is lacking at the moment."

'Undermines confidence'

Mr Kahn claimed the readmission of Ms Rathbone to the Labour assembly group before the investigation had finished was "inappropriate":

"They should have had a little bit more consideration for the local Jewish community," he added.

First Minister Mark Drakeford should explain the timing of Ms Rathbone's readmission, according to Stanley Soffa, representative for the Cardiff Reform Synagogue on the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Louise Ellman MP, president of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: "This episode undermines confidence in Labour's procedures and raises more questions.

"Who gave authority for Jenny Rathbone to be re-admitted to the Welsh Assembly [Labour] group before the enquiry was concluded?"

Image caption Mark Drakeford will meet the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Welsh Government announced

Labour in Cardiff Bay has not explained why Ms Rathbone was allowed back into the group before the investigation was complete.

Labour sources told BBC Wales concern that she was distressed by the suspension was a factor.

UK Labour would not comment on individual disciplinary cases because its complaints procedure is confidential.

But a source added Ms Rathbone had "fully cooperated with the investigation and demonstrated she understands why her comments were unacceptable".

Mr Soffa said he believes "it is really reaching a state where there is no respect for Jewish feelings" within the Labour Party, and called on Mr Drakeford to speak out.

'Profoundly sorry'

Last month, the Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote to Mr Drakeford to express "deep concern" at the timing of the decision to readmit Ms Rathbone to the Labour assembly group, saying it "serves only to drive a further wedge between the Jewish community and the Labour Party".

The Welsh Government said a meeting between Mr Drakeford and the Board of Deputies was being arranged.

In a statement last week, Ms Rathbone said she was "profoundly sorry" for her remarks.

A Labour spokesperson added: "All complaints about anti-Semitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken."

Wales Live is shown on BBC One Wales on Wednesdays at 22.35 GMT.

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