A Welsh Labour politician has said she is “deeply sorry” after she was recorded questioning whether rising anti-Semitic hate crime was “real”.

Jenny Rathbone AM, who represents Cardiff Central in the Welsh Assembly, suggested increasing threats to Jewish people could be “all in their own heads”.

The recording, leaked to the Jewish Chronicle and published online on Wednesday, features the politician responding to a question about increased security at the Cardiff United Synagogue in the Cyncoed area of the city as a result of rising anti-Semitism.

Ms Rathbone says: “The fact that the Jewish synagogue in Cyncoed is behind this fortress is really uncomfortable.

“And 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.”

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”, and said Israel’s behaviour “drives peoples to be hostile to the Jewish community in this country”.

She later says: “I think the Jewish community has a responsibility to try and promote peace in the Middle East.”

Her comments were recorded at an event in November 2017 just days before the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which another speaker refers to as being “next Sunday”.

Incidents of anti-Semitism have been on the rise in the UK, with charity the Community Security Trust (CST) which works with police forces recording 727 incidents across the UK in the first six months of 2018.

Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl called Ms Rathbone’s comments “inexcusable”.

She said: “She says it is ‘uncomfortable’ for outsiders to see the local synagogue be protected like a ‘fortress’ and that these necessary security measures are somehow part of the Jewish community’s collective paranoia.

“In light of the Pittsburgh massacre, and the ongoing terrorist threat to Jews around the world, she should immediately disown these remarks.

“The Labour Party should be ashamed that yet another example has emerged of its elected representatives blaming Jews for the tragedies that befall them. But we are long past being surprised.”

Mrs Rathbone said in a statement she accepted her comments were “insensitive” and apologised for downplaying the fears of the Jewish community.

She said: “I accept that comments I made last year were insensitive and have laid me open to accusations of intolerance.

“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.

“I am meeting one of my local Rabbis later today to apologise directly.

“With levels of antisemitism 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.

“I had no intention of doing so and I am deeply sorry that I did.

“It is also not acceptable to suggest that the Jewish community are responsible for the actions of the Israeli Government.

“I had already accepted the kind invitation to attend the forthcoming Chanukah celebration at Cardiff United Synagogue, and hope that I will still be welcome to join them.

“I hope to be able to continue to work closely with the local Jewish community to deepen my understanding of their concerns and experiences, and I will be referring myself for equalities training to assist with this process.”