Phyllis Chesler Interviews Carol Gould

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An Appreciation of Melanie Phillips
Last uploaded : Saturday 27th Dec 2003 at 00:36
Contributed by : The Editor


Melanie Phillips, a fine British journalist whom I admire and respect, has written a disturbing piece in this week?s ?Jewish Chronicle,? the weekly community newspaper published across the United Kingdom.

Melanie writes for the hugely popular national tabloid, ?The Daily Mail.? In recent years she has become a proud and articulate spokesperson for Israel. She was booed, hissed and heckled when she was brave enough to appear on the BBC weekly programme ?Question Time? last year. (This is the programme on which Philip Lader, the former US Ambassador to Great Britain, was foot-pounded, heckled and screamed at by a vicious BBC studio audience two days after 9/11.) Melanie happens to commit the heinous crime of being proud of her Jewish heritage and of the accomplishments of the state of Israel. This sort of behaviour can cause one to lose one?s entire social circle and even gainful employment in ?Guardian?-saturated Britain.

What I find frightening about the tone of this week?s Phillips editorial in the JC is her willingness to tell the readers and the world that her so-called ?right-wing views? (right wing means supporting Israel and/or the removal of Saddam) have resulted in BBC producers describing her as ?mad' and publishers being heard to say they would rather ingest ricin than sign on to her work.

Frankly, I have never found a Phillips report or editorial ?right wing;? she is a skilful and thoughtful journalist who explores each story in a thorough manner and treats the issues therein with as much care as can be afforded the topic. In recent months she has taken up the cudgel for Israel, but even these articles are far from polemic. If the BBC thinks her mad and publishers regard her as box office poison, they live in a parallel universe: have any of these people watched Bill O?Reilly, Newt Gingrich or Sean Hannity on Fox News? Next to them Melanie Phillips is a gentle liberal.

This past year I have found myself in increasing isolation, so I can understand Melanie Phillips. Oddly enough, many of my Jewish colleagues and friends have become just as hostile to me as have my non-Jewish associates. They are appalled that I have embraced the Zionist cause and have also supported the campaign to remove Saddam. What is so said about the British and European anti-war movement (I was close to joining the anti-war crowd after ?shock and awe, but?read on) is that the protestors are screamers who rave and rant about the murderous Jews and who cannot separate their hatred of Israel from their hatred of the Bush Doctrine. High-profile British anti-war spokespeople take it further: they obsess about ?a cabal of Zionists? (Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz and Kristol) bullying President Bush and Prime Minister Blair into the Iraq war. There is no doubt that peace in Israel-Palestinian Territory would benefit the entire region, but death and destruction in that benighted land reigned supreme long before Doug Feith or Bill Kristol were toddlers.

Perhaps Melanie Phillips should ?go west? as Rabbi Jeffrey Rosen said in his equally disturbing editorial in ?The London Jewish News? a fortnight ago. The United States would welcome her eloquence and talent. How sad that this great nation, the United Kingdom, has become so hostile a place for her. Although it is encouraging that a Jewish pro-Iraq war writer, David Aaronovich, received a Journalist of the Year Award in London this week, it is worrying that Melanie Phillips can be received with such venom by major institutions here, and that some publishers revile her.

How will it all end? I am not optimistic. The British media are dominated by journalists who provide reams on the evils of Israel and the USA -- and these reams are read by children, the working public and the retired. Paradoxically, the British Conservative Party has enthusiastically selected Jewish Michael Howard as its party leader; he is perceived as a friend of Israel. His spirited performances at Prime Minister?s Question Time have already made an impact. Perhaps the ?silent majority? is beginning to spread its wings. If so, Melanie Phillips may not need to ?go west? after all.

You can visit Melanie Phillips at:

Carol Gould is a documentary producer and former Drama executive with UK ITV network. Her book 'Spitfire Girls,' about the women pilots of WWII, was published in the UK in 1998. She is Senior Editor of Jewish Comment and Current

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