EDMOND—British journalist, author and commentator Melanie Phillips shared her views on the Arab-Israel impasse at Armstrong Auditorium on May 7 with a lecture titled “A World in Turmoil.” Phillips addressed an audience of about 350 people, then took questions from a mix of Herbert W. Armstrong College students, Philadelphia Church of God members and visitors from the community. The lecture also live-streamed to 876 people watching on live.pcog.org.
According to Ms. Phillips, the “received wisdom” of most Westerners is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be solved by some sort of two-state solution. The consensus is that the problem is a “dispute over the division of a piece of land between two peoples with legitimate claims to that same land,” she said.
Phillips addressed three fundamental assumptions that most people make regarding the need for the Israelis and the Palestinians to each have their own state. These three assumptions are that the Jews’ claim to the land of Israel is based on the Bible alone, that Palestinian Muslim Arabs were the indigenous people of the land, and that modern Israel was created by Europeans who felt guilt because of the Holocaust and transported European Jews to the region and drove the indigenous Arabs out. “Every one of those three assumptions is wrong,” Phillips said, before examining the reasoning behind each claim.
Phillips contested the claim that Israel acts illegally by establishing settlements and that it treats Palestinians harshly through security measures such as border checkpoints. Phillips also emphasized that where the Jews and Arabs should live in relation to each other is “entirely the wrong question to ask.” She said, “The right question is, ‘How do we stop the attempt to exterminate the legitimate Jewish homeland of the State of Israel?’”
The 50-minute lecture was followed by a 40-minute question-and-answer session, which included questions about the proposed movement of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the disconnect between Jewish Americans and Jews elsewhere, whether Jordan provides a good alternative to the two-state solution, the involvement of Iran in Israel’s troubles, the outcome of the land-for-peace strategy, and other issues.
After 90 minutes on stage, Phillips talked with patrons in the auditorium lobby for another hour.
On May 8, after meeting yet another of her many writing deadlines at her hotel, Phillips attended a luncheon with Philadelphia Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry, managing editor Joel Hilliker, and eight other guests at Mr. Flurry’s home. Afterward, she spoke to a group of 11 Trumpet staff members from Edmond and 11 others listening online from England, Jerusalem and Australia. The 90-minute talk included discussion about Ms. Phillips’s personal experiences as a journalist and editor at Britain’s Guardian newspapers, her criticism by leftists, and a few tips for improving a journalist’s research, logic, sources and integrity.
“It felt like we were speaking to an embattled fellow soldier in a common cause,” Mr. Hilliker said of the meeting in the next day’s Trumpet Brief. Edmond Trumpet staff writer Andrew Miiller remarked on Twitter, “I don’t think I’ve ever received so many good writing tips in so short a time before.”
Phillips’s visit was a result of her notifying her newsletter subscribers that she had open dates during her tour of America. Trumpet managing editor Joel Hilliker contacted her via e-mail; he said that the opportunity “fell in our lap.” Phillips spoke at the notoriously left-wing University of California–Berkley on May 4, and then happened to have two days open in a row, so she was able to deliver her public lecture at Armstrong Auditorium, spend the night in Oklahoma City, then return to campus for the luncheon and Trumpet staff discussion on Monday before traveling on.
The lecture was advertised ahead of time in two print ads in the Sunday Oklahoman, two weeks of radio ads on Oklahoma City’s ktok 1000 AM, and on Twitter by @PCG_News and @theTrumpet_com. In addition, all Philadelphia Trumpet subscribers in a 150-mile radius, over 1000 subscribers, received an invitation letter. Mr. Hilliker also interviewed Phillips over the phone about her history and her take on several world news trends on the April 26 episode of his kpcg radio show, Trumpet Hour.
Phillips has been writing reports and opinions on world news and society for major newspapers for over 40 years, starting out at the Guardian in 1977. There she found herself increasingly estranged from her more radical-left coworkers as she wrote on domestic British issues including education and the breakdown of the family. Her refusal to join an increasingly radical liberal ideology earned her numerous enemies in her field of work, she said. Her research pushed her to depart from the left and from writing for liberal news platforms.
Phillips says she does not consider herself a conservative, but identifies with “middle Britain,” the type of people who voted for Brexit despite the progressive liberal views promoted by politicians. She said she rests her hope in the people who are “rooted in the world of every day” and in “what they can actually see” rather than those who “live in the mind” and see things only as the way they want them to be.
Phillips has been a columnist for the Guardian, Observer and Daily Mail. Her articles appear in the Times of London, the Jerusalem Post and the Jewish Chronicle, and she frequently shares her worldview as a panelist on bbc’s The Moral Maze and as a lecturer at colleges and other institutions and events.
Her lecture in Edmond was part of the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation’s newly coined “Executive Speaker Series.” Phillips posted the Philadelphia Trumpet’s YouTube video of her address at Armstrong on her website on May 9. Her work is available at MelaniePhillips.com and on Twitter at @MelanieLatest.