This balmy autumn in Brighton is a lie.

The leaves aren’t dead. The sun is still warm as if winter knows something we don’t. We still enjoy a long Indian summer as if nothing has happened. Days ago I watched a play about the terrors of Dafur, the Holocaust and Ukraine. A candelabra of suffering. And now, again, Israeli children and mothers and fathers and grandparents still lie where they fell in broad daylight. They fell but our leaves don’t. Their autumn lies dead.

I had hoped to cheer you up over your cornflakes. But how can we smile? The only smiles are those fixed in photographs of dead Israelis we mourn in vigils. The only smiles are those of parents trying to be strong.

This is Israel’s autumn. Instead of leaves falling it’s orphans.

One day Ukraine, the next Israel. The bloodshed is Biblical – let me fix the scenes of bloodshed in black ink.

One moment an ordinary Saturday, the next blood-spattered bed clothes in cots, the babies beheaded. A German Jew with her arms broken driven through Gaza on the back of a pick-up truck.

Whole families massacred in their Kibbutz; their bodies abandoned across their yards like leftovers from a car boot sale.

Young people, one minute dancing to music, oblivious to the tiny black dots in the distance, tiny black paragliders gliding in like angels of death, the next minute they are fleeing across the desert, being gunned down like extras in a Mad Max movie. Except this is no movie - it’s a home video for the enjoyment of Hamas supporters. For YouTube and TikTok. Someone earning money from clicks.

Families creeping out on to rooftops one by one, until the last one – the father – one leg over the windowsill suddenly slumps down shot dead.

Holocaust survivors gently guided on to golf carts and driven towards Gaza – they survived one evil but they don’t cross this border.

Dashcam footage of drivers approaching blockades of masked men – their windscreens shot out suddenly and the only sign of death the car veering off to the side to smash into parked cars.

Rockets streaking the sky in broad daylight like a disappointing firework display. Children and families cowering in bunkers awaiting the bang they won’t hear once they’re dead.

Women just raped, their clothes dripping blood, squashed into cars surrounded by gun-toting thugs dressed in death.

And people talk of peace. That it was bound to happen. That Israel had it coming. That Hamas are only acting in self-defence. That there is moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel – there isn’t. Only one side beheads babies.

When people talk of peace – many famous commentators think Ukraine should seek peace with Russia, that killing tens of thousands of civilians should warrant peace as if the other side, Russia or Hamas, can be trusted, that you can broker peace with murderers - and the end to the war, what they mean is that evil wins. Ukraine should negotiate. Israel should negotiate. With child murderers and rapists and terrorists.

There have been pro-Hamas demonstrations in London, New York and Sydney to name but a few. Of course there have. We expect our multicultural centres of tolerance to allow such things.

But in Brighton too. Our city of sanctuary. Our city that prides itself on welcoming Ukrainians. That is rightly proud of its LGBTQIA+ community.

Shocking it was that right here in Brighton, right by the clock tower – a symbol of staid civilisation – that just as Israel was reeling from a black-clad plague of thugs creeping into their desert protesters were calling the attack ‘beautiful and inspiring.’ A Women’s officer from the University of Sussex is on the video. So well-versed in justice and women’s rights. Jewish women are dead now. My alma mater where I learnt about Shakespeare. Is this what our multicultural centres have become? We are so civilised we can’t recognise evil unless it happens to us.

On Monday night Hove Town Hall was lit up by the flickering shadows of candlelight as our city leaders shared in our Jewish community’s grief. The incomprehensible prayers sung in a language I don’t know rose up like the smoke from the candles. Incomprehensible because how can you pray at this time? How can you not? What is left to do?

One protest by the clock tower I could not understand for its evil; one vigil I could not understand for its bravery and restraint.

More Ukrainians each day lie dead. My wife’s best friend in hospital having been hit by shrapnel in Bakhmut. We feel your loss with our loss.

We reach out to the Jewish community with a psalm we share:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Alistair McNair is a Conservative ward councillor for Patcham & Hollingbury on Brighton and Hove City Council