These days it seems that every time we open the paper or log into the news, we see descriptions of Mobs of every kind everywhere. Latest ones are the ASrab and Jewish mobs in Israeli cities - but they are far from unique. So what is going on?
I can only try to answer the question from the perspective of my own experience. Growing up in Buenos Aires, mass demonstrations of any kind were common. I participated myself in many of them: The Students' demonstration in support of Chile, the Jewish community demonstrations over he years on behalf of Israel, the mass demonstration in support of the Anti-discriminatory law, etc, etc. Yet most of them never turned into Mobs. They were organized demonstrations in which citizens were voicing their opinion in a public way.
Yet there were some demonstration which turned into Mobs. March 30, 1982, comes to mind. A workers' demonstration against leonine decrees gutting the rights of the workers. Military Police came to repress, workers fought back, three deaths and over 100 wounded. Two days later, the military government announced that an Argentine commando had taken over the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands).
April 1974 also comes to mind, right in front of my parent's home; Ezeiza 1973 left many dead and wounded, as did Codoba in 1980. So what is that makes peaceful demonstrations become uncontrolled mobs?
I remember the feelings in those days. Frustration. Anger. Fear. These three are the big motivators of Mob violence. The killing of an African American triggered mass demonstration and violence accross our Nation. The mobs were motivated by the frustration of feeling unheard and of being cooped up because of the pandemic, the fear of losing the job for those who still had it and the anger of those who had already lost theirs.
The Mob violence in Congress in January of 2020 came from the anger and frustration of those who believed that the election had been jerry rigged to rob their candidate from his rightful win, but also by the same anger and frustration of the black mobs which covered the country.
The Arab mobs in Israeli cities are an expresion of frustration and anger about the perceived inequalities in the way the government spend money in Jewish and Arab communities, and also at the perceived indifference from most of their fellow citizens who happen to be Jews. It is also an expression of frustration at the atitude of the Jewish majority of ignoring the feelings in the Arab street.
The Jewish mobs in Israeli cities are also an expression of the frustration over the perceived obduracy of the Palestinians who would not stop terrorizing the Jewish population, anger and fear over the support of some Israeli Arabs for the Palestinian Authority, a feeling of being isolated in the world, frustration over the denial by the Palestinian leadership of the historical and cultural connections of Jews to the land.
All the motivations I described so far are by no means the end of the list; just the start. Add to all this the growing inability of people to listen to opposing points of view or to accept authority, and you have a recipe for disaster. Let's face it - as Human Beings we are only Apes with a veneer of cultural ("civilization") control mechanisms. It is very easy to toss them overboard and give in to our baser instincts - for control, for land. for wealth, etc.
The greatest test of our days is not so much the environment (which is in bad shape) or even political polarization (which contributes to the violence). The true test is to become a hero in the Talmudic sense. In Pirkey Avot, it says "Mi Hu Givor? HaKovesh et Itzro" - "Who is a Hero? He (or she) who is able to control the baser instincts".
History teaches us that whenever Humanity was able to set aside the frustration, anger and fear which in constantly trying to take over, Humanity has been able to take great leaps forward and improve the world in which we leave. Let us make room for dialogue by listening to one another...
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