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Holocaust-O-Meter

Updated: Mar 21, 2018


7th March 2018

I cried happy tears in J.P. Licks today and not one bit embarrassed about it. M. took me out for ice cream, because he wanted to talk about his upcoming conference. But out of the blue, he gives me this bracelet with a little blue David star and puts his brand new German passport on the table, reclaimed citizenship!!! We delete the awful Holocaust-O-Meter App together. And then we both cry happy tears over ice cream in J.P. Licks - in broad daylight and for everyone to see.

24th January 2018

Seven minutes and 42 seconds is M.’s record, he set it on October 3rd 2017. Roughly 8 minutes does it take him on that day before he shouts the word “Holocaust” at me across the room. His daily average is about 17 minutes. How do I know? M. has built a Holocaust-O-Meter for me. A little app, where I can put in and record, how long it takes him to shout “Holocaust” at me every morning in our class. When he first showed it to me, the shy guy that he is, blushing so furiously, I got so offended that I shouted back at M., and then I couldn’t sleep for a whole night, because I shouted angry things about the Holocaust. To a Jew. And maybe I was also a little bit hurt that he just can’t get over me and builds me some tactless, offensive tool to remind me every day. I’ll gladly take responsibility for what happened going forward - but not guilt. The other people in class think it’s hilarious, so I had to play along last semester. But I had such a great time in Israel last week, completely without ever feeling that I carry Hitler in my handbag, so not sure, if I want another semester with that thing. Or with M.

From the very first introduction round in class, M. and I have rubbed against each other. M.’s grandparents are Holocaust survivors; his parents have loaded him up so fiercely with Israel love, I’m so impressed and moved by that passion. But for M. at least, it can apparently only come with some form of German disgust. So every day he sits opposite of me in class, gloating, and pretty much every day, when we talk about some piece of Jewish culture and politics, M. likes to shout “Holocaust perpetrator people!” across the room at me, sometimes not quite in earnest, I know, but uncomfortable enough that I haven’t told B., Y.S., or G. about it, because it makes me so awkward. What if it is not only M.? Y., so long ago that he for sure doesn’t remember, once said to me on the bus in the Israeli desert, that the question sometimes crosses his mind, when looking at Germans like me, what my grandparents might have done to his grandparents. To be fair, I actually asked him that, so I thought at the time, it was just very honest, and then completely forgot about it. But when I met N. last week for the first time in Jerusalem, it was a little shock, sitting in that nice street café, that he, too, tells me “learning German was my personal Holocaust again and so disgusting and awful” to him. I really do want to be able to laugh about jokes like that at some point. But I have never written an op-ed faster and happier than the one today with K.D. for Holocaust memorial day. Just really, really wish from my heart to get out of writing about the past and instead write more edgy stuff about the present and future.

I collect great beginnings. Beginnings of songs, of movies, of great articles and books.

This quote by Buzz Bissinger is the most beautiful beginning in my collection. It also captures perfectly what it feels like for me to research and write newspaper articles about Israelis and Israel. The short notes below describe the experiences behind my published texts. They are the fun, silly, absurd, baffled or sad real beginnings of those stories. They sketch what happens before or after I write the actual piece and send it off to the editor, and they are taken from my diary entries about rummaging up and down that little country and its people for no other reason but pure curiosity. 

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