I should perhaps begin by saying that I’ve never thought Melanie Phillips ‘mad’ , that I appreciate her forensic quizzing of guests on one of my favourite programmes, The Moral Maze, that I think she raises some important topics, and that, on occasion, I have read an article of hers right through without finding a single point I disagree with. But there are a number of issues about which I do disagree with her strongly, and sometimes I find her tone, particularly in some of the pieces on her Spectator blog, quite offensive.
This piece has recently caused a stir. I do agree with at least some of the points she makes about responses to the savage murders of the Fogel family, including their three young children. But I share the concerns raised by others about the way she begins the article:
Today the massacred Fogel family was buried in Jerusalem. And as anticipated, the moral depravity of the Arabs is finding a grotesque echo in the moral bankruptcy and worse of the British and American ‘liberal’ media
Some commenters imply that she has simply been criticised for calling the murderer(s) ‘savage’. But this does not seem to be the correct or, if you like, the most obvious reading of Melanie Phillips’ words. Here is another problematic passage:
To the New York Times, it’s not the Arab massacre of a Jewish family which has jeopardised ‘peace prospects’ – because the Israelis will quite rightly never trust any agreement with such savages – but instead Israeli policy on building more homes, on land to which it is legally and morally entitled, which is responsible instead for making peace elusive.
The murders were completely vile, and the response from some was depraved. But it has also been noted that many Palestinians, at least on the West Bank, have condemned the murders. So, even though I don’t find myself in fully congenial company on this issue, and think Fraser Nelson makes some fair points here, I have to sympathise with those who have been offended by Melanie Phillips’ remarks.