Uri Blau reports for Ha’aretz about a group of 80 or so teenagers who used ICQ and SMS to meet at the mall in Pisgat Ze’ev with the explicit intent of lynching a few Arabs and to scare others away from the mall.
It would have been difficult to choose a more cynical date on which to send out such a message: Wednesday, April 30, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Dozens of boys arrived at the meeting place in the Pisgat Ze’ev shopping mall. They streamed in from all parts of the capital, some on foot, some by bus and some driven in by parents. Equipped with knives, sticks and clubs, they all had one purpose: to do harm to Arabs for being Arabs.
(ht The Traveller Within)
Such an incident says nothing about Israel as a state or as a society. Every human group has its dark elements. As for the tools they used to organise their attrocious initiative – IQC, SMS, Twitter – they are not good nor bad. They can be used to promote human rights as well as they can be used to oppress them.
But the ease of organisation does change the scene: Clay Shirky often mentions flash mobs as an example of the positive impact technology has on the power of people to self-organize. And yes, I agree. Technology empowers individuals and communities. Which means we each, individually and collectively, have a greater responsibility.
We do not need to look to institutions to lead change, we can do it ourself. But we can no longer trust institutions to direct change. Here comes everybody, the good and the bad. There are no inocent by-standers: inaction is complaisance.