Last Sunday I marched with what the police estimated to be more than 100,000 people in Central London to make clear that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in this country.

The devastating scenes that we have all seen on our television screens in the Middle East since the attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7 provoke emotive reactions regardless of your politics.

That however, does not and should not provide a cover for anti-Semitism or islamophobia.

Since that awful day, there has been an 1,300 per cent increase in anti-Semitism and a 600 per cent increase in Islamophobia.

There has quite simply been an explosion of hatred across our country. From marches which profess horror but don’t call for the release of the innocent civilians being held hostage by Hamas to the ripping down of posters asking for their release.

I’m not Jewish, I don’t profess to be, but I have always aimed to understand the concerns of the community and I believe I have not just listened since my election in 2019 but acted too with my words and my actions.

Bury Times: Bury South MP Christian WakefordBury South MP Christian Wakeford (Image: Christian Wakeford)

From everything I have heard from members of the community over the last couple of months could be summed up quite well by the Jewish writer, David Winner.

“I’ve always felt very, very secure in Britain, but now, while I don’t feel immediately under threat, that sense of unthinking security has gone. The atmosphere has changed. I’m not bombing Gaza, but once again Jews are being held responsible for what Israel does. It’s bizarre.”

The Jewish community in Bury South and wider UK aren’t on the front line of this war in the Middle East but do find themselves on the front line of blame.

Politicians across the board should be clear. This newest form of the oldest hatred must be resisted at every turn. The only ones who ever prosper from it are those who seek to divide us.

My concern is how much the country seems to have changed over the last couple of months. It has unleashed the worst sides of society who previously were left hidden under the rocks they dwell under.

A two-state solution seems light years away. We seem unable to speak to each other anymore on the most basic facets of this conflict let alone move towards peace.

Any discussion about the Middle East has been diluted to picking a side and fighting regardless of right and wrongs. No nuance, no understanding of international law and a total dehumanisation of human lives on both sides.

I want you to know, that when you read this, you are not alone.

Those of you that shy away from speaking out, owe it to your friends and your neighbours to stand up and against all xenophobia.

Find your voice, don’t stand for extremism.

England is a good, decent and tolerant country. That is why I love it and that is why we mustn’t allow those voices of extremism who always shout loudest to win.