This year is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in which a safe haven was promised for persecuted Jews. Many people have sought to criticise the declaration and blame all the recent ills of the Middle East upon it. They assume that there was some kind of idyllic state that existed in the Ottoman Empire before the British Mandate and the eventual founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Such claims are historically inept.

Long before the Balfour Declaration the writing was on the wall. Both Arabs and the 85,000 Jews (out of the whole population of 689,000 based on 1914 figures), living in what is now modern day Israel, dreamt of being liberated from Ottoman occupation and turning the land into a new nation state. In 1905, observing this developing clash of dreams, Azoury, an antisemitic Christian Maronite, predicted a coming war between Jews and Arabs that would not end until one had beaten the other.

Long before the Balfour Declaration Jews, who had outnumbered others in the Old City of Jerusalem since at least 1850, had faced hostility from their Arab neighbours. Al-Khalidi preferred those Jews fleeing European pogroms to be settled anywhere other than Palestine.

Long before the Balfour Declaration Orthodox Clergy contributed to Jew-hatred by exporting from Europe and Czarist Russia antisemitism into the Arab countries. As the land became more open to travel German Protestants also brought with them abhorrent hard-line Lutheran theology that claimed Jews were destined to suffer as a consequence of failing to accept the Messiah.

By 1908 an anti-Zionist daily began to be published in Haifa – edited by a Protestant of Greek Orthodox origin. Two years later Muslim opposition to legitimate land purchases by Jews led to increasingly frequent acts of sabotage on their property and the following year, in 1911, an economic boycott of Jews was proposed; all this long before the Balfour Declaration.

For centuries under Ottoman rule, despite being the poorest of the poor, Jews were taxed heavier than the Muslims and Christians; they were jostled in the streets, on their way to the Western Wall broken glass was scattered across their path, and when they arrived there they found the wall stinking of urine and faeces that had been smeared across it. They were forced to pass Muslims on their left side because that was the side of Satan. They were segregated and the synagogues had to be hidden in out of way places.

So it is absolute nonsense to suggest that under Ottoman rule, Muslims, Christians and Jews existed side by side in some kind of idyll and that the Balfour Declaration was the originator of the Middle East crisis. To do so is either naïve or dangerous partisanship. Indeed it could be argued that Balfour may have been seeking to resolve the escalating conflict by creating a safe haven for Jews in much the same way as the Dayton Agreement sought to settle the Balkans conflict eight decades later.

By all means criticise British policy in the Middle East if you must but let’s not lose sight of the whole picture. The land had been occupied by Ottomans for centuries, conflict between Jews and Arabs was long-standing and during the British Mandate there were attacks from both sides on each other. If only we could spend our energies seeking a more sophisticated understanding of the historical facts and work towards solutions instead of taking sides.

One of the challenges we must face is that no one actually won this election.

There was no clear winner and this leaves the country in a form of limbo.

It will be extremely difficult to push legislation through at a time when a clear consensus is required but we simply don’t have it.

And it is of little use saying we need a second election, or even a second referendum, because the division in the UK is deep and clear; until there is a proper debate with the arguments played out before the electorate we will just keep getting slim majorities or hung parliaments.

This is because we are currently spilt right down the middle on almost everything; from Brexit to immigration, from the NHS to taxation, from Trident to terrorism.

What I do think is that the much of the electorate punished those who failed to engage in that debate; from the Prime Minister refusing to appear with the leaders of other parties to local candidates that refused to attend hustings. Such a dereliction of duty to those they wish to serve is foolish at best and perhaps arrogant at worse. The democratic process deserves better. There is a part of me that is pleased that they paid the price for such disrespect.

However the fact remains that the political leadership of both major parties failed to convince the electorate that they are worthy of our trust, otherwise there would have been a clear winner.

Personally I think it will be interesting to reflect on any future analysis of how people voted.

My guess is that many preferred to vote against a party rather than vote for the candidate they chose to place their cross next to on the ballot paper.

That is a terrible indictment of those that seek to represent and lead the people.

On the issues that affect us I think the Government has not taken seriously enough the inequalities in our island nations and are storing up resentment in many quarters.

But the other major party has failed to deal with the far left in their wings, and the antisemitism that has gone unchecked is fuelling hostility and hatred in many communities.

The second terrorist attack in the UK in less than a fortnight is a deeply painful reminder of the challenge we are facing.

It is clear that our priority as a British society is to build bridges across the communities. We cannot allow the prejudices within every heart, including our own, to continue unchecked, for to do so would give them permission to be expressed in destructive ways.

This is not a battle to be waged by others, it is one to which each and every one of us must be committed. Criticising the other is no way to peace; being closed off to the different is no way to harmony; failing to admit our own shortcomings is no way to unity.

Today we mourn the loss of life in London. We pray for the victims, their loved ones and the emergency services. Tomorrow we may mourn the death at the hands of terrorists in another city. Evil is stalking not only these islands but the world. Good will always overcome evil but the victory comes at a cost, often a very great cost. The sacrifice has to be made by each of us through the manner in which we think, speak and act.

May God give us the humility and the strength to reserve our judgment for ourselves and not others, so that through honesty and a willingness to strive for peace we may be part of the campaign to defeat the extremists that exist in every community.