Criticism vs. Attack: YOU Don’t Get to Talk About US!

Donald Unger
5 min readFeb 22, 2019
Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

Why We Can’t Talk

I’m Jewish but grew up third-generation secular.

My mother was a Zionist Socialist who left New York City when she graduated high school and moved to Israel — then, a few years later, in the late 1950's, she moved back to New York again.

She hadn’t found gender equality in Israel; nor was she happy with the treatment of the Israeli Arabs — read “Palestinians” — which, that far back, she felt too closely tracked the treatment of African Americans in the US.

Criticism of Israel?

I don’t have any problem with that; I was born with a “primary source” that I trust.

I don’t think that America, or any other country, is above criticism either.

That said, it is undeniably true that some percentage of people who criticize Israel — and Zionism — are using that as a scrim for antisemitism.

What do I “do” with that?

Mostly . . . I try to listen.

And I try not to — prematurely — deploy or “play” the discrimination card.

That’s hard.

Because . . . trying to pick apart what constitutes “legitimate criticism” and what constitutes flat-out attack?

That’s hard.

And when you have a weapon at your disposal that you can use to stop or to ward off or to delegitimize whatever you don’t want to hear or to deal with?

In explaining the logic and narrative of plays, Chekhov basically argued that, “If there’s a gun hanging on the wall in the first act? Someone gets shot in the second act.”

Which is to say: When we have weapons?

We use them.

When asked to explain why, if there is likely other intelligent life in the Universe, we had yet to see Little Green Aliens, Stephen Hawking made a similar argument.

Any civilization advanced enough to accomplish interstellar travel, he suggested, would also have the technological means to destroy itself. Perhaps, Hawking said, inevitably, any time a Doomsday Button is “installed,” it is eventually pressed.



Donald Unger

I write what I know and what I’ve lived: humor & chronic pain; politics & parenting; business writing & cultural analysis; and . . . ranting (a lot of ranting).