Triple Cross: How Britain Created the Arab-Israel Conflict
By Rachel Neuwirth
I hope that no one will mistake me for an enemy of the British people. I lived in London for six months, and I have been a frequent visitor to England. I can testify to the warmth, hospitality, courtesy, and friendliness of her people. A foreigner staying as the guest of an English friend is cosseted as if he or she were a long-lost niece or nephew. It is easy to strike up a conversation with a total stranger in a public place who quickly becomes a friend.
When one is boarding a train with a heavy bag, there is always someone willing to help you get your bag in it before the train leaves (this too rarely happens Stateside). When one gives an Englishman or Englishwoman a tip for services, he or she usually says thank you and smiles -- a man will even doff his cap to you when tipped. Even taxi-drivers are friendly and helpful. They go so far as to entertain their fares with jokes and puns. Try to find a taxi-driver like that in New York!
Nevertheless, some members of Britain's still extant class structure reveal a darker side to the British national character. Her "chattering classes," as the British call them -- journalists, academics, writers, "talking heads" and "intellectuals" -- include in their ranks all too many people who are moralistic, self-righteous and judgmental without being genuinely ethical.
Many (of course, by no means all) of the people in these classes are quick to express indignation at the alleged misdeeds of others, while ignoring the principles expressed in Lincoln's formula, "with malice toward none and charity toward all," or the New Testament saying, "judge not that you be not judged," and in the Talmudic saying, "judge no man until you have stood in his shoes." Rather, these classes are subject to what Lord Byron called "fits of morality" that are arbitrary, capricious, extremely selective, and vindictive.
If the British chattering classes have their shortcomings, they are still not as severe as that of Britain's politicians and "civil servants" (read "bureaucrats") who specialize in foreign and colonial policy. All too many British officials in these branches of the government (again, not by any means all) speak the language of morality (phrases like "a sacred trust" come easily to their lips) while pursuing what they regard as the interests of the British Empire (now disguised as the British Commonwealth) by any and all means, including lies, deceit, trickery and broken promises. It is these officials who, through the centuries, have won for Britain the venerable ignominious epithet "perfidious Albion."