Over the summer, I visited Israel, including spending a day in Kibbutz Kfar Aza. At the time, I wrote in these pages what a remarkable community it was. As the news filtered in about the fate of the kibbutz on October 7, my heart broke. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for everyone with family and loved ones in Israel.
It’s been over seven weeks since the appalling Hamas terror attacks. Amidst the most harrowing circumstances, it has been remarkable to see how the Jewish community has pulled together.
But it concerns me deeply to see the ongoing impact on communities here at home. Listening to Jewish residents across Chipping Barnet, I’ve heard how many people have experienced more fear, more anxiety and more discomfort in their own city than in a very long time. I’ve heard from parents about their children removing their uniforms on the way to school, adults wary about travelling into town and worshippers being followed on the way to or from synagogue. Antisemitism and hate crimes have soared.
This is unacceptable. British Jews must never feel unsafe on our streets and should never suffer as a result of events in the Middle East. Now, more than ever, we – as politicians and representatives – have a deep responsibility to the Jewish community. This is a time for leadership. We must recognise what we are seeing for what it is: hatred - and we must call it out. We must all say that the fight against antisemitism will never be your fight alone and have the actions to back it up.
Earlier this year, I met with the Community Security Trust, who do truly vital work. I am glad that the government has increased funding, and I am proud that should a Labour government be elected, this will continue. Amidst all the heartbreak, I've seen this community at its best, including on the peaceful march against antisemitism where I walked alongside local residents of all faiths and none unified in support of the Jewish community here in the UK.
In the last few weeks I’ve visited my local synagogue, sharing food with members at Sha'arei Tsedek and attended a beautiful service at Woodside Park Synagogue. I was welcomed with open arms. I heard a unanimous cry for peace, heartbreak at the loss of life in Israel and Gaza, and a renewed determination that two-states, secure and existing alongside each other, must be our common goal.
As the recent hostage release and pause in fighting shows, light can pierce through the darkness. But through it all, this is the time for allies to stand with the Jewish community.
Dan Tomlinson is Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Chipping Barnet