I woke up today with a horrible headache and nausea. I’ve been feeling this way for the past few days. I know exactly what’s causing it: work/deadlines stress. This is called life and it’s pretty normal stuff.
Here’s something that isn’t ordinary that causes nausea too.
How do I separate my ordinary nausea from this one – this one that I seem to write about repetitively and futilely? I don’t even know what to write anymore.
I will say this though. I know my nausea in all its forms is a privilege. It’s the privilege of being alive. There are 6 million people who don’t have that privilege, who are not here to speak for themselves, and who did not die so we can keep abusing their deaths, their innocence and their memories.
Europe and the UK are pretty unpleasant places to be a Jew right now. I find myself negotiating basic things, like what kind of jewellery to put on (better not wear that Star of David necklace I got from my grandmother), or who will recognise my very Jewish and very Israeli name and react badly (this has happened, usually from men, and it’s very intimidating). I find myself frustrated at the smug banality of other people’s reactions and slogans, and the self-congratulation of ‘respectable’ middle-class people who tsk tsk at all the ‘savages’ in the Middle East, but who casually contribute to the rise of both anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiments in their own countries.
But all of this comes with the knowledge that I have the privilege of being alive. So I’ll take my nausea and my tears, and I’ll take my rage and shaking hands, and I’ll take my daily negotiations. What I will not take is the minimising and appropriating of 6 million Jews, over and over again.
I would like everyone to visit Auschwitz. Go stand in that pit of pure hell and then tell me if you don’t feel nausea too. If you do, take it as a sign that your body knows, somewhere deep inside, what was done here, and that it will not let you stand by and watch as this hatred rises up again.