Manchester; A City United

A heartfelt reaction to last night's cruel terror attack from JC columnist Stephen Rosenthal

May 23, 2017 12:52

I very much doubt they read the Jewish Chronicle, but let me, on behalf of all proud Mancunians (and that’s every single one of us), assure the murderous terrorists behind last night’s MEN Arena attack - you’ve no idea what you’ve just done.

It takes a certain level of revolting, inhumane, barbaric cruelty to target innocent men, women and children attending a pop concert. I don’t care how strongly you feel about your ideology or how zealously you believe in your cause. This isn’t political or religious. You were children. You may even be parents.

We, along with the rest of the world understand what your goals and ambitions are. We’ve had to endure them for decades now; in Jerusalem, London, Paris, Brussels, New York. Mumbai, Kabul, Bali and a tragically-long list of many many more.

You just don’t seem to get the simple fact that you achieve nothing other than to bring together the communities you seek to divide. Why can’t you see what the rest of us have always seen? We mourn, we heal, we rebuild, we come together. You’re just a forgotten statistic.

And I can tell you from experience, in no uncertain terms, you’ve messed with the wrong city.

Here’s what you need to know about Manchester. Yes it’s a city, but it’s a city that thinks like a town and feels like a village.

You want an example? This morning at 8am, in the only piece of comic relief of the day, my 67-year-old dad called to reassure me that he and my mum hadn’t been at the concert. I never had him down as an Ariana Grande fan, but still, I knew the call would come, and I was heartened when it did.  

And there are so many more. As a school boy, if I was ever intimidated by anti-semitic thugs, I was always immediately rescued by strangers of all colours, races and creeds. Why? Because of the innate, unspoken understanding that we don’t tolerate that in Manchester. Not in our city.

Yes we’re sometimes tribalistic, rarely passive and always passionate, but the home of United and City is a city united. Always. And your cowardly stunt, at a pop concert full of children enjoying what should have been a highlight of their young lives will only strengthen that unity.

You think you’ve broken new barriers in Manchester? That you’ve expanded the poisonous cloud of fear to new frontiers? Are you daft!?

You forget the Blitz. You forget Warrington in 1993. You forget Manchester City Centre in 1996 - the biggest bomb detonated in Britain since the Second World War. You can’t even begin to fathom how resilient we are.

Some cities half as culturally and ethnically diverse as ours would have panicked, looking inwardly to finger-point. Not Manchester. We mourned, we healed, we rebuilt, we came together. And we will again.

We rarely talk about the 1996 attack. We don’t give its organisers the satisfaction. When we do, we joke that it’s “the greatest contribution the Irish have made to the North West”. And that’s about as Mancunian as you can get.

The IRA got a headline. Manchester got a brand new city centre, and with it a renewed sense of community and opportunity.

Oh, and even more backbone than we had before. Which is bad news for you.

Something else you need to know. We’ve turned profanity into an art form. There’s a poetry to our indignant pride. And so, on behalf of Mancunians everywhere, as well as the 99.9 per cent of humanity of all colours, creeds and religions who condemn your barbarism, let me just say - go f**k yourselves.

This is Manchester and you’re way, way out of your league.  

May 23, 2017 12:52

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