Below are the video and transcript of a speech given by Melanie Phillips at the Freedom Center’s 2023 Restoration Weekend – held Oct. 26-29 at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans.
Good morning, everybody. Until Sunday, I was in Jerusalem. And I intend to return there on Thursday if Iran’s missiles will permit El Al to continue running its flights. Although I spend a great deal of time in London, my home is now in Jerusalem. So let me start by giving you a little snapshot of what it’s been like in Jerusalem in the last three weeks when the air raid siren goes.
We have 90 seconds to get into a shelter. And for me, that’s a choice. I have this dialog in my head the whole time. Is it safer for me to go down to the underground car parking lot where there are two shelters equipped with lavatories for a long stay? Or is it safer for me to stay in my stairwell? Because it will take me quite a long time to get to the shelter. And I have concluded that I am safer in the stairwell. I’m looking at the guidance that the Israeli government authorities offer to all of us. Make sure you have in your house or in your shelter enough water for at least three days per person. Make sure you have enough dried goods have with you a battery operated radio. Make sure you have with you a flashlight. Be prepared for a very long stay in the shelter. So I stay in my stairwell and I wonder whether I’m ever going to see my cupboard with my dried goods and my water. In the street, I meet people.
A friend who has five sons underground. Five sons and a son in law on the front lines somewhere. He has no idea where, in the south or in the north. I meet another friend, an elderly man who says in tears: thank goodness, one of my grandchildren, one of my grandsons, was wounded and he’s now home. But the other grandson is on the front line. I don’t know where. Another friend says to me as she burst into tears in the street. She says that her granddaughter was about to be married on the Tuesday after the terrible attack on Simha Torah and the wedding was postponed. The boyfriend, the husband to be, as soon as the sirens went off on that terrible day, he rushed down south. He knew that friends of his were in one of the kibbutzim on that border. He got his gun. He rushed down south and he met there at the kibbutz, a scene of indescribable carnage. And he also met Hamas terrorists roaming around, still murdering people. He killed a very large number of terrorists that day, until he himself was himself was wounded and apparently he collapsed. He was simply exhausted and he was shot. He collapsed into a ditch somewhere and the IDF eventually found him. They thought he was a terrorist and they prepared to shoot him. And then someone said he’s wearing Tzitzit and he was not shot. He was rescued and put into immediate counseling, Immediate counseling because of the trauma of what he had seen.
Israel is a very small country, as you know. There is virtually not a family that’s not touched by this in some way. They have a relative who’s been murdered, who’s been kidnaped, who’s vanished. Their children, their grandchildren, their nephews, their nieces are being called up to the front line. My husband’s cousin, a man he’d actually never seen, another story, was murdered at the music festival.
He went there with his wife. His wife started to run, like in the scenes that we’ve all seen. The man himself had been wounded in a previous war in Israel. He couldn’t run. He was murdered. I have a young cousin who is somewhere probably in Gaza, having been called up. People are going in Israel to funeral after funeral after funeral.
The population is traumatized, shocked and grieving. It is shocked. Above all, at the collapse of the assumption that Israel is where we are actually safe. We have an army now. Never again. Isn’t that the slogan on which the country is based? Well, it happened again in Israel. We’ve seen barbarism and depravity on a scale not seen since the Shoah. Anxiety levels are off the scale. Children and relatives are at risk. The rockets keep coming. The red alert on my phone lights up with rocket attacks all the time. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are displaced and are living now in hotels. Missiles were fired from Yemen, and shot down by the Americans in recent days. Those missiles were aimed at Eilat, the holiday venue on the sea, where thousands of Jews, of Israelis evacuated from the south are now being accommodated in those hotels. Everyone is braced and dreading the opening of that second front in southern Lebanon from which missiles are already being fired; where 130,000 missiles are arranged, pointing at Israel having been situated within civilian life inside and around hospitals, schools, apartment blocks, just as in Gaza. But those missiles in Lebanon operated by the Hezbollah are precise. They’re accurate. They can cover the entire country. And if they start unleashing, we are in a different ball game. At the same time, I have to tell you, there is such a feeling in Israel now, which is so, so inspiring. It is a feeling of determination and of everyone pulling together in the failings of the leadership in having allowed this thing to happen. It still has to be explained and a reckoning is still to come. But as soon as the attack started, people, young people leapt into their cars and rushed down to defend the border and start killing Hamas. These are all reserves. So many of them are reservists, not all of the reservists. But there was this coming together from the ground up. They didn’t wait to be told. They didn’t wait to be called up. They just knew that this is the moment we are called upon to defend our country and to defend the Jewish people. And off they went. It was absolutely magnificent. It was heart warming. And it’s not just the people who rushed to engage with the enemy. It is extraordinary how many have rushed to engage with the enemy. There has been, it sounds comical, a 150% response to the call up 150%, because 50% are people who weren’t being called up because they’re too old. The Army didn’t want them, but they got on their planes from every part of the world and poured in. So much, so the army asked, what are we going to do with these people? We haven’t got arms for them. We haven’t got guns, we haven’t got food. Anyway, this was quite comical, but, you know, they were all accommodated. But that’s the sense of solidarity, of unity that has come about in Israel, forging this entirely quarrelsome people once again into a nation, a nation that has risen again from the ground up. And in civil society, everyone is looking out for everyone else. So many people are in grief from the loss of loved ones. So many people are so anxious. People are looking after each other. Everyone is volunteering. There are hundreds of volunteering outfits, each of which have leapt up. I myself found myself filling pita bread in an assembly line of sandwiches that goes out every day. It’s an extraordinary assembly line. There’s somebody who’s cutting the pita. There’s somebody who’s stuffing the pickles, somebody who’s stuffing the hummus, somebody who is putting it all together, someone who’s shouting to everybody else that they’ve cut it the wrong way. There is somebody who’s loading it all into the trucks. There’s someone who’s loading the trucks, the cars and the young people getting the cars and driving it all around the country for the boys and girls to have that day.
This is amazing stuff. And it’s going on all over the country. This is I think, we all feel an absolutely seismic moment in Jewish destiny. The latest chapter in the story of the eternal people. Now we know that the agenda of Hamas and of Iran is very clear genocide; to destroy Israel, wipe out Jews, and from then, wipe out Christians and all unbelievers. We know that because they say so. But what’s been revealed by what’s happened is something much broader and much more concerning. It is, in short, a civilizational crisis. The depravity that we have seen in Israel at the hands of Hezbollah, of Hamas and beyond them, Iran. That depravity has put down roots in Britain, in Europe, in America, in Australia, throughout the West.
What we’re seeing in Israel is a war against the Jews. And behind that war, we can see revealed on our streets, is a war against the West from within. We have a monster in our midst that has been encouraged, ignored, enthused, and now we can see it having emerged. We have seen shocking scenes in British, American, Australian cities and elsewhere of Muslim mobs celebrating the mass murder of Jews in a kind of frenzied ecstasy. Among the non-Jewish population, this terrible spectacle on the streets of our great cities has been viewed by tens of thousands with indifference or even support, particularly among the young. Polling this week has shown by Harris Harvard, that among 18 to 24 year old Americans, nearly half, 48% said they side more with Hamas, compared with 16% of all Americans. Nearly one third of these young Americans are openly backing Hamas.
More than half 51%, think the Hamas pogrom in which 1400 Israelis were murdered can be justified by the grievances of Palestinians. Just think about that. 51% of your young people aged 18 to 24 think what happened is justifiable. In Britain and in America, young people have been pictured tearing down posters, bearing pictures of some of the kidnaped Israeli children and laughing as they do so. Over the tunnel way on a London tube train, a driver led a chant of Free Palestine among cheering passengers on their way to demonstrate against an Israel that is being targeted by genocidal attack.
Thousands of demonstrators chanting from the river to the sea, meaning calls for the destruction of Israel, have been seen on the streets in London. The mob also chanted Khaybar, Khaybar oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return. The reference to the seventh century slaughter of the Jews of Khaybar by Islam’s founder, Muhammad, which acts as a jubilant glorification and incitement of the slaughter of Jews.
Today, the media in the West is pumping out Hamas propaganda. Israel is being condemned for killing children in Gaza on Hamas inflated figures with no mention whatsoever of the number of Hamas terrorists who are being killed in that number. No mention of the rocket attacks which continue every day. No mention of the Hamas war crimes against Gaza civilians by holding them effectively as human shields. No mention of the thefts of fuel and electricity by the Hamas to power the infernal underground tunnel infrastructure of terror. They aren’t in darkness. They have water, they have electricity, and they have fuel. So let’s when we hear about a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, we should ask our media why they aren’t saying Hamas is producing this humanitarian catastrophe in order that it can continue its genocidal murder of Jews and Israelis. Instead, we get questions by interviewers about the bombing of civilians by Israel. How can Israel be killing Gazan children? Thousands of cultural and intellectual figures have been signing declarations of solidarity with Gaza. They have not condemned Hamas for butchering and kidnaping Israelis. They have not acknowledged the plight of the 220 plus hostages. Instead, they have blamed, quote, settler colonial occupation and European empire.
They have blamed Israel for the collective punishment of the Palestinians. Even if they don’t support Hamas, they do support, according to all opinion polling, the killing of Jews. This is a Palestinian population in Gaza that handed out sweets and rejoiced when they heard of the 1400 Israelis who had been murdered. This is a population in Gaza that pulled through that broken boundary fence after Hamas broke through and joined in the orgy of bloodletting, looting and kidnapping among the devastated communities of the border, a population that spat upon and desecrated the bodies of those who had been kidnaped and paraded through Gaza. These are the people, we are told our holy innocent parties and are being subjected to a humanitarian catastrophe by Israel bent upon vengeance. Antisemitism is now already at record levels. Attacks across the West have increased many times over. Last week, people hurled firebombs at a synagogue in Berlin. In Amsterdam, three Jewish schools were closed temporarily, one of them twice over safety concerns. In Sydney, where the mob chanted, gas, the Jews in front of the Sydney Opera House, the police advised the Jewish community to stay home for their own safety. At Cooper Union College in New York, security officers had to lock Jewish students in the school library against threats from pro-Hamas students who were hammering on the door. And eventually, those Jewish students were smuggled to safety through underground passages in the college here in New Orleans. Yesterday, pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Tulane University demanded that the university, quote—denounce the Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people, divest from Israeli occupation and protect Muslim and Arab students and others who speak out against Israel, and they violently attacked Jewish students waving Israeli flags. Israel, as we can all see, is not just fighting to defend itself against annihilation. It is fighting for, as we have heard, civilization against barbarism.
Now, the question, therefore, is why can so many people in the West not see this? Why are we witnessing what I would call the West’s own mass psychopathy moment? Well, the answer is, I’m afraid that a horrifying number among the West’s ruling elites themselves were and continue to be complicit in the agenda to destroy civilization at the most obvious and immediate level.
What’s happened in Israel is the result of many things, including the failings I’m sure we will find out of the Israeli government, IDF, and so on. But what’s happened in Israel is also the result of American policy by the Biden administration and before that, the Obama administration. These two administrations have simply empowered Iran over many years. Unconscionable, extraordinary lunatic as that sounds through the Obama nuclear deal, which legitimized an eventual Iranian nuclear weapon. Whatever it said it was going to do, that’s what it was actually going to do.
Through that deal, billions of dollars were funded into sanctions relief, which went into Iranian coffers and used to fund Iran’s expansion in the region; financed training and equipped its terrorist proxies in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Yemen, and in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria. Dozens and dozens of attacks on American assets in the region over this period under these two administrations have been either totally ignored, as we heard from General Keane last night, or answered with the most feeble of responses. And this has given an impression of weakness. This has given the impression to the enemies of civilization, including Iran, that America is no longer prepared to defend the free world. It is no longer prepared to fight anywhere and commit its troops to fight anywhere in defence of the free world. And this has encouraged Iran and other terrible actors in the world to increase its aggression.
And undoubtedly, Iran is behind the Hamas pogrom and the attempts to wipe out Israel that we can now see continuing to unfold. Now, we can all see that American, the Biden administration, has sent an enormous amount of firepower into the Middle East for which Israel is extremely grateful. And we can see it’s already been in some limited action. But I’m afraid to say, among Israelis, the signals are considered very ambiguous. Is the American fleet there to protect us? Israelis are asking. Or is it there to stop us? Is it there to say to Iran, we’re here, so don’t do anything? And to say to Israel, we’re here, so we’re protecting you. So don’t do anything in Iran. Which is it? We don’t know In Israel. We don’t know because the administration is still undermining Israel’s right to defend itself. On the one hand, it puts its hand on its collective heart and says, we’re with you. We won’t let you be hurt. We are doing all this to show you that we are with you. On the other hand, it is saying, well, you know, we oppose all violence on all sides. Really? Really. We are called upon in Israel to show restraint. Really? You want Israel to stop defending itself. It has pressured Israel to admit humanitarian aid into Gaza when we know it’s going to be used by Hamas. We know that Hamas has fuel, electricity and so on, that it has filched from that aid for its own nefarious purposes. Will America, if it comes down to the crunch, if Hezbollah starts unleashing those missiles, will America come to Israel’s aid? What exactly will it do? I mean, if we in Israel don’t believe it, it’s because of what America has been doing until that terrible Saturday in empowering funding, encouraging and turning a blind eye to what Iran was doing. If we in Israel don’t believe, therefore, that America will step up to the plate, why should America think that the Supreme leader in Iran will think it?
Deterrence is all about meaning it. If America has never meant it for the last several years, why should anyone think it means it now? Having said that, it may do. We don’t know. And this is very frightening. So then the question that now must be asked is why the administrations, why this Democratic administration is also keen to appease rather than fight and defeat tyranny? Well, one reason is the kumbayah mindset of the left; this belief that everyone is susceptible to reason, susceptible to appeals to their self-interest, that all conflict can therefore be resolved by negotiation and conflict resolution. And you never need to go to war. They cannot get their heads around the idea of religious fanaticism, unholy war that elevates death in the minds of these people to the highest goal of life. This belief by our liberal elites is a bottomless delusion. It is why the Obama and Biden administrations negotiated with the genocidal terrorists of Iran. Why, even now, President Biden is insisting, quote—what comes next has to be a two state solution, a path towards peace, close quote. This is the delusion that there are good Palestinians and bad Palestinians. We now agree, okay, We accept Hamas. They’re bad. Okay, We agree. But the PA is different. The Palestinian Authority is different. These are the people who are entitled to a state. Well, the Palestinian Authority has the same aim as Hamas, although their tactics are different. The Palestinian Authority wants the end of Israel. It teaches its children that their highest calling is to murder Jews and steal their land. And the role model of President Abbas is Hitler’s ally in the Middle East. In the 1930s, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, who promised Hitler that if he won the war, he that the Mufti would exterminate every Jew in the Middle East. This is the role model of the person to whom America, Britain and the European Union are still trying to deliver a state of his own. A Palestinian state would mean importing Gaza, and that new nightmare that we see there into the very heart of Israel. But there’s a broader degree to which liberals in general in the West are complicit in this horror that has unfolded. They have created a narrative of Israeli colonialism and Palestinian victims of their oppression, of which every word is a lie.
Now, they are horrified, these liberals. They can see the people they have supported, have committed these acts of unbelievable, barbaric depravity. They can see that the people they call fascists, the Israelis, the oppressors, have been slaughtered by the people. That Western liberals have supported, encouraged, sanitized and legitimized. This has thrown them into extreme confusion. They have been supporting ‘multiculturalism’. They have been supporting mass Muslim immigration into Europe. And now they’re looking at the streets of Europe, of Britain, of America. And they’re seeing the people they said were entitled to come in, that they’re just like us; that they believe in human rights. Anyone who speaks against that is an ‘Islamophobe’, is a bigot, is a ‘racist’. They can see these people on the streets baying for the blood of Jews. They are the people they’ve supported. But they have and they have done this. So are they going to see the error of their ways? Are we are going to see a mass recantation by our liberal elites. Well, forgive me, I’m a little skeptical. And that’s because it’s not simply that they’re being asked to say, okay, we got it wrong. They’re being asked to say something that is much more fundamental because their entire moral personality is constructed around the belief that everything they stand for is morally virtuous. Anyone who dissents from anything they stand for is not just wrong, but evil. Everybody who dissents from what they stand for is a right winger; or evil is right wing. And all right wingers are evil.
Tyranny can only come from the right. Antisemitism can therefore only come from the right. So what they are seeing now threatens to upend their entire moral and political personality. And so they’re throwing up what I would call chaff. They are still justifying what’s happened as ‘resistance’. They are falling back on moral equivalence. They’re saying children are dying here. Children are dying there. They’re saying Israel mustn’t have a disproportionate response. How can you be disproportionate in your response to genocide? What is the proportionate response to genocide? They are legally illiterate and they are morally bankrupt. We are witnessing moral degeneracy and moral inversion by those who assert they are morally pure and they cannot let go of that belief. Now, the Western mind is not just being poisoned by the Palestinian agenda of rejectionism of Israel and the lies that have been told. I think few realize the extent to which the West has been knocked off its moral compass by the support of the Palestine cause. Palestinians blame Israelis for behavior of which Israel is innocent, but of which the Palestinians are guilty, such as ethnic cleansing, aggression, illegality, war crimes, genocide. This is a moral inversion and a reversal based on the pathological projection by Palestinians of their own misdeeds onto their victims. This moral inversion has been reflected in the Western support of the Palestine cause, but it also has fed into the West’s own moral inversion. For decades, the progressive project has been to destroy the bedrock institutions of the West, its history and traditions, and create a new world order around the individual and around groups of the so-called oppressed. How the individual sees the world, we are told, trumps how the world actually is. If members of a favored, quote, oppressed group feel he or she is an oppressed victim, no one is allowed to dispute that. So members of these groups, whether of race, ethnicity, sex or gender, can play an unchallengeable victim card when they behave badly and they can blame instead their ‘oppressors’, those who they themselves were attacking. Whether these are men, whether these are conservatives, whether lesbian, people who believe in sexual difference as opposed to transgender. And we can see in our education system the result of a situation in which for decades our young people have no longer been taught their own history and of the West. They’ve no longer been taught to appreciate the institutions of a free society and instead have been subjected to these West-destroying ideologies which is why so many of our young people now support those intent upon genocide against the Jews and promote barbarism over civilization.
These ideologies of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender are all based on the aim of replacing the Western nation state, which is supposedly responsible for all bad things in the world by universal values. These are supposed to replace the supposedly innate belligerence of the nation state by the brotherhood of man. We can see how well that’s worked out in the United Nations, where the world’s worst tyrannies are on the Human Rights Council, which sanitizes and excuses those tyrannies while persecuting democratic Israel, and whose Secretary General Antonio Guterres, has blamed Israel for the atrocities against its own people by saying the Hamas pogrom did not happen in a vacuum. Liberal orthodoxy ordains. There can be no hierarchy of values. This means that the West can’t say its principles are any better than the developing world. They believe the West is oppressive and the developing world is their victims. That means that Muslims can never be held responsible for what they do. They must always be seen as victims. Jews can never be seen as victims because they’re white. They have money, they’re powerful. They control capitalism and the world. That’s what’s believed. And that’s why when Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, was asked about a potential rise in anti-Semitism in America, not potentially, its actual, she answered by claiming that, quote, Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims have endured a disproportionate number of hate fueled attacks. Moral inversion or what? Something even more wicked. This is the grip of an ideology that brooks no dissent. It is quite insane. How else can you explain, other than the kind of mass insanity, like the group Queers for Palestine who campaign against Israel, the sort of capital of LGBT wonderfulness in Tel Aviv. Whereas in the Muslim world, in Gaza, if you are an LGBT individual, you are likely to get thrown off the top of a tall building.
And yet you have Queers for Palestine insanity. How does one explain this? I would conclude by saying this: The way this has taken over the mind of so many, calls to mind the tactics and strategy of the former Soviet Union. This is what they did and it is no coincidence. Palestinian-ism was cooked up by the Soviet Union in cahoots with Yasser Arafat in the 1960s. Yasser Arafat wanted to invent Palestinian national identity and destroy Israel that way. The Soviet Union understood this was the way of capitalizing on the cultural weakness of the West in order to basically fry their minds and turn them against themselves. My goodness me, this has been carried out to the letter and it has worked. What we are seeing is the only way I can think of this.
I am not that old, but what people lived through under us, when under Stalinism, when people in the West thought that Stalin was ushering in the progressive new paradise, they would not believe what they were seeing when they were told what was going on—the millions being murdered and oppressed and executed and tortured. They wouldn’t believe it. If people are in the grip of an ideology, they sometimes don’t believe what they see. And so my final point is this We know that civilizations die. We know civilizations have died. We’ve all read, I hope, about the end of the Roman Empire. If we haven’t read it, we should certainly read it because it has certain messages for today.
Israel today is fighting for its own survival and for the lives of its people. It is also fighting for civilization. The question is whether Western civilization understands that this is what is at stake. The question is whether Western civilization actually wants to be saved since its leading lights appear to have concluded it’s innately bad and not worth saving. Israel will win this maybe at terrible cost, but Israel will win this because Israel is determined to survive. The Jews are the eternal people. This is not true of the West, which seems among its elites to have decided to go the same way as the Romans did. This is a war of civilization against barbarism. It is far from clear who will win. The West is looking in horror at what’s been happening and what is happening now in the Middle East. The West needs to realize that the war is right here.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.