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Friday, 26 May 2017

Manchester Measures the Diameter of Its Bomb

The Diameter Of The Bomb


The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters

and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,

with four dead and eleven wounded.

And around these, in a larger circle

of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered

and one graveyard. But the young woman

who was buried in the city she came from,

at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,

enlarges the circle considerably,

and the solitary man mourning her death

at the distant shores of a country far across the sea

includes the entire world in the circle.

And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans

that reaches up to the throne of God and

beyond, making a circle with no end and no God.

(by Yehuda Amichai, one of Israel’s most esteemed poets)

Ariana GrandeThe bomb that ripped through the foyer at the Manchester Arena on Monday night somehow turned Amichai’s clinical analysis upside-down.

This time, the circle of life and death tightened, skewed and then reversed, leaving young parents without children; a future generation half-wiped out before it had quite begun.

What sort of villain would do this?

I’ll tell you:

This atrocity, I swear, was north west England’s own May-time Ma’alot massacre, whose quite eerie similarity in dates and statistics saw 25 hostages, including 22 children killed and a further 68 people injured.

While the circumstances of what happened in Manchester this week and those in Israel during spring 1974 were quite different, the consequences were wickedly familiar. The following year, for example, a commission of enquiry noted that many mistakes had been made by the authorities and recommendations for improvement were made.

Forty-three years on, I suggest that all public buildings in the U.K., including entertainment venues, install electronic screening for anyone entering or leaving the premises until every non-employee has vacated after a performance. Such a rule should be applied strictly to all involved, no matter their fame and importance.

I have spurred some public debate about singer Ariana Grande’s hasty return to the US after the explosion. While I consider the 23-year-old’s behaviour immature, selfish and irresponsible, others say she was traumatised and probably took advice from her ‘handlers’ and her terrified family. But she is an adult, more than old enough to be a mother, to make decisions for herself and to be answerable for her actions.

Even less worthy was her alleged offer to pay for the murder victims’ funerals. How easy it seems for the wealthy to cure the world’s ills by raining golden pennies on its bruises. Anyone who has been bereaved anyhow –that must be nearly everyone reading this – knows too well that burying the dead only starts the grieving process. This burden, too often something beyond dreadful, may last a mourner’s own lifetime.

While I accept my view is unpopular, I still insist that the star could instead have increased her personal security team and then visited the bereaved and injured before her departure. Instead, the duty was performed by HM Queen Elizabeth II, still performing with ineffable grace and composure aged 91.

As an expat Mancunian now living in Israel, I conclude this short piece by offering sincerest condolences to the bereaved and hopes for the speediest possible recovery to all  those injured.

© Natalie Wood (26 May 2017)


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