Spectator Alert: Ill-Mannered Jews Spotted in Savoy Grill

5 Apr 2011 by CST

As an explanation of what distinguishes the English characteristics of antisemitism from its uglier and more lethal continental equivalents, Anthony Julius’s book, Trials of the Diaspora simply cannot be bettered.

Nevertheless, at 811 pages (including references), you might want something shorter and easier to read in the bath. Thankfully, The Spectator  magazine has come to the rescue, in the shape of Alistair Horne’s review of the newly revamped Savoy Grill; proving that in one little corner of England’s green and pleasant land, old-habits are indeed dying hard.

Having disparaged the doormen, praised the chateaubriand and despaired at the price of a bottle of Petrus (£2,000), Horne sniffs out yet another problem – an old one:

Another common fault of even smart London restaurants — the tables in the Grill are too close together. (The Ritz is an exception.) Our conversation was beaten down by the nasal tones of Finchley Road entrepreneurs, boasting their latest high-powered deals.

The voices carried me back to the last time I was treated to ‘Henry’s table’ in the Grill. It was June 1940, a party to cheer up my cousin, Cecil, who had just been given the DSO (on top of a WWI Military Cross) for bringing his battalion out of Dunkirk.

He was a man brave as a lion, who rather alarmed me as a child, and that day was gaunt and hollow-eyed as if he had escaped from hell. He had. He talked of German ‘secret weapons’. Then, as we rose, he looked around the room and asked scathingly: ‘Are these really the people we fought for?’ He might possibly have posed the same question today, except that he was killed two years later at the head of his brigade in the desert.

And there you have it: the old English antisemitism. 

The snobbery. The mockery. The sneer.

The codes of language and meaning, behaviour and status.

The literary flourish and the importance of the remark.

The insiders. The outsiders. The well heeled English gentleman. The crass money-making Jew.

This genteel and noble land of heroes: now exploited, tarnished and abused by ill-spoken profiteers.

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FOOTNOTE:

In the Comments that follow the article on the Spectator website, Michael Berlin writes this -

The distinguished historian may like to think and ponder on the following, which contain one or two men with nasal accents who come from the Finchely Road:

According to the latest records 2,954 British Jews and 694 Palestinian Jews gave their lives in the Second World War.

The number of those that were killed, died in service or who remain missing are:

Army
1,864
Royal Navy (including Royal Marines)
202
RAF
888
Merchant Navy
41
Palestinian Jews
694

He then lists the Second World War Awards to Jewish Servicemen, including 3 Victoria Crosses, 147 Military Medals (2 with Bar) and 63 Distinguished Flying Medals (5 with Bar).


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