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«Amos Oz narra en Judas las grandes preguntas y conflictos de la historia y de la religión en Oriente Próximo»Judas el regreso de Amos Oz a la novela género ue no había frecuentado desde Una historia de amor y oscuridad plantea una audaz y novedosa interpretación de la figura de Judas Iscariote en el contexto de una angustiosa y delicada historia de amor    En el invierno de 1959 el mundo del joven Shmuel Ash se viene abajo su novia lo abandona sus padres se arruinan y él se ve obligado a dejar sus estudios en la universidad En ese momento desesperado encuentra refugio y trabajo en una vieja casa de piedra de Jerusalén donde deberá hacer compañía y conversar con un anciano inválido y sarcástico A su llegada una atractiva mujer llamada Atalia advertirá a Shmuel de ue no se ena de ella; ese ha sido el motivo de la expulsión de sus predecesores En la aparente rutina ue se crea en la casa el tímido Shmuel siente una progresiva agitación causada en parte por el deseo y la curiosidad ue Atalia le provoca También retoma su investigación sobre la imagen de Jesús para los judíos y la misteriosa y maldita figura de Judas Iscariote la supuesta encarnación de la traición y la mezuindad va absorbiéndole sin remedio

10 thoughts on “Judas

  1. says:

    Little did I imagine when I was around 30% into the novel that I would award it 4 since I was seriously considering to putt up my hands up and surrender any hope to enjoy this novel The main character annoyed me to no end and I wanted to slap his laziness out of him Still the writing slowly grew on me and the ideas put forward made me ponder and discuss them with my father who is a world politics enthusiast I still did not feel too much sympathy for the main character at the end so not change there Ok I’ll get serious now Schmuel Ash is given three major blows by fate which were or less his doing His father losses his business and cannot finance Schmuel’s studies any his girlfriend leaves him to marry another man and he gives up on his studies In order to support himself he gets hired by a mature woman Atalja to offer company for a few hours per day to an old crippled man in exchange for home food and a small salary For me the whole setting is only a pretext to discuss the idea of loyalty and treason Amos Oz chooses two important and controversial examples to illustrate his thesis that loyalty can be disguised as treason Schmuel studied religion and his abandoned thesis was named Jesus in the Eyes of the Jews or something like that From his research one idea is borne namely that Judas was the first real Christian because if Jesus hadn’t been crucified and resurrected Christianity would not have existed The 2nd subject of discussion comes from the identity of Atalja father a politician who was consider a traitor because he considered that the use of force was not necessary during the creation of the state of Israel and that a compromise could have been reached with the Arabs These two major themes and are discussed between the three characters and the merit of the novel is that it made me wonder if there is some truth in these beliefs In addition I learned interesting facts about Israel’s history and politics regarding which I am looking forward to expand my knowledge The appearance of a plot was given by the unshared love Schmuel begins to nurture for Atalja and his efforts to win her affection Without it the book would probably resemble to an essay however an interesting one I believe this novel has chances to win the Booker prize and I would not mind if it did

  2. says:

    I can't remember the last time spending so much time with a book and I'm not done yet I'm preparing for a serious die hard discussion coming up at my temple I've listened to the audiobook have read the ebook and will get a copy of the physical book to examine soon too By the time my book club meets I'll have read this book 3 timesThe I research this book's topics themes and Amos Oz's personal political and religious point of views mixed with the realities that Israel was established a Jewish state in 1948 David Ben Gurion became Israel's first premierthe 'uncertain' I become on my own views The time period in which Amos Oz set this story is worthy of discussion itself late 50's to early 60's The Arab Israeli conflict six Day War of 1967 was just around the corner It doesn't particularly take strenuous effort to read this book but where it can be fatiguing is in the grappling with the puzzling uestions addressed regarding betrayal theology anti Semitism Zionism religion history and the Israeli Palestinian conflict The humor and the personal Intimate side between the characters was a great balance when exploring Jewish Christian philosophy thoughts beliefs bigotry and debates The two uestions that most stand out for me from this novel are was the State of Israel – in 1948 as a Jewish state a mistake? And in the endwho was the traitor? The three main characters Shmuel Ash Atalia Abrahanel Gershom Wald and 4th ghost character Shealtiel Abravaneleither young and reserved sensuous and mysterious old opinionated and outspoken a hero or a villain each of the characters as we slowly get to know them we come to learn their own personal struggle with violence with association to Israel The writing and storytelling are both eually wonderful informative complex and thought provoking Grab some tea and biscuits as there is an abundance throughout this story might as well join in and do not forget to feed your fishHowever don't think Bella is coming over to do your laundryNO VISITORS ALLOWED WHEN TAKING YOUR TURN TO READ THIS BOOK enjoy your solitude Shmuel sure 'tried' For a girl who resisted reading this book for a long time Its probably the first book I've read that has 'shaken' my thinking about Israel in a long time I have a lot of respect for Amos Oz and the uestions he created with this novel

  3. says:

    35 stars This is my first book by this prolific author who I have known about for many years but never took the opportunity to read until now The book is complex in some ways and I found multiple levels here political religious and for me mostly the emotional level In looking at some biographical material it appears that Oz is not only prolific but political and not without his critics in standing for a two state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict The intellectual religious aspect of the book is depicted as the main character a young man has just abandoned his research on the Jewish view of Jesus Conseuently there are parts of the book that discuss his view of whether Judas was a traitor or whether by betraying Jesus there would have been no Christianity The politicalreligious aspect was covered in the story of one of the character's father and whether he was a traitor in favoring a two state solution So is it about the uestion of whether a traitor is really a traitor about loyalty? All of this in all honesty is just a bit too heady for me However there are things that drew me into the book It did not feel like a translation in any way There are wonderful descriptions and lovely writing in general and I found the three main characters appealing wanting to know about them and how they would end up Shmuel Ash 25 has lost the financial help he received from his parents after their bankruptcy He has lost his girlfriend who married her former boyfriend and lost his enthusiasm for his research and in some ways it seems he's lost himself He takes a job as a care giver to an disabled man and his main responsibility is to keep the man company and converse with him in the evening Gershom Wald too suffers a loss his son in 1948 in the Arab Israeli war While Ash is trying to escape what life has dealt him to be away from it all he finds a lonely life until he is attracted to Atalia Abravanel widow of Wald's son 20 years his senior There as I mentioned above a lot going on here on an introspective intellectual level but for me the meaning of the story was about loss and loneliness and the connections that Shmuel makes with Atalia and Gershom There are several reviews in major publications that will give a in depth analysis on what Oz was perhaps trying to do here and for anyone interested I suggest you look for those From my perspective I'm glad I read this for the writing and the poignant moments of connections between the characters I received an ARC of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through Edelweiss

  4. says:

    This is the third outstanding work I’ve read by an Israeli in as many weeks and I find myself falling under a spell of admiration again for a culture that fights back against the worst aspects of itself interrogates itself relentlessly and creates humor around the morose recognition of man’s fallibility Into a novel describing three generations living together in Jerusalem in a small house Amos Oz weaves history religion politics and leadership into a meditation on the why and how of Jewishness and the concept of a Jewish state Not for a moment do we believe the characters have a life beyond that of describing a conflict The generous nature of Oz’s characters make us willing to suspend judgment and place our trust in his hands awhile to hear what he has to say In our modern world one is rarely willing or able to hear an opposite view but this seems a safe place to examine ideas In a review in the New York Times Oz speaks of this novel as a piece of chamber music A grouping of voices influence one another each different than the other three generations of Jews in IsraelThe time is late 1950s or early 1960s A student Shmuel has found his thesis “Jewish Views of Jesus” not as uniue as he’d imagined and less interesting than something he'd bumped up against in research “Christian Views of Judas” Shmuel discovers that without the traitor Judas Iscariot there would be no Christianity Jesus and his apostles were all Jews Without the crucifixion there would have been no rift in beliefs Needing to ponder this theory further Shmuel has left his thesis unfinished and has taken a job as evening companion to learned old Gershom Wald in exchange for room and board The old man spends his days arguing vociferously with friends and enemies and is a strong supporter of David ben Gurion’s Zionism Wald’s daughter in law Aitalia holds an opposite and radical view that reflects her own father Shealtiel Abravanel’s opinion that the concept of nation states and ownership of land and resources is a faulty one Aitalia’s father was one of those people who believe that every conflict is merely a misunderstanding a spot of family counseling and handful of group therapy a drop or two of goodwill and at once we shall all be brothers in heart and soul and the conflict will disappear He was one of those people convinced that all that is reuired to resolve a conflict is for both parties to get to know each other and immediately they will start to like each otherThe novel is a multi layered examination of the idea of ‘traitor’ and whether or not it is in fact an enlightened state “which really ought to be seen as a badge of honor”Anyone willing to change Shmuel said will always be considered a traitor by those who cannot change and are scared to death of change and don't understand it and loathe changeShmuel added in a hushed voice as though afraid that strangers might hear After all the kiss of Judas the most famous kiss in history was surely not a traitor’s kissBut old man Wald reminds us that it is the name Judas which has become a synonym for betrayal and perhaps also a synonym for Jew Millions of simple Christians think that every single Jew is infected with the virus of treacherySo long as each Christian baby learns with its mother’s milk that God killers still tread the earth or the offspring of God killers we Jews shall know no restIn a review for Riad Sattouf’s graphic memoir Arab of the Future I’d expressed some concern that Arab schoolchildren in the Middle East were learning religious hatreds early never considering that North American Christians were of course learning religious hatreds at the same ageOz makes no secret of his own opinions in interviews but in this work he makes us puzzle it all out He gives us the old conundrums in new ways making us want to take them up again for examination We uestion everything from the ground up This work reminds me why I love literature Oz is able to layer complex motivations onto history and take a stab at trying to explain what man is and what we should expect of himThe translation of this work into English by Nicholas de Lange from the Hebrew is especially easy to enjoy The Blackstone audio production is excellent the work narrated on ten discs 11 hours by Jonathan Davis The hardcover published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is useful to return to some ideas Though the novel is not difficult to read the ideas challenge readers and may reuire a second or third look to tie the threads together This is great stuff Oz is seventy seven years old He should be proud of himself and we should be grateful

  5. says:

    35 Dense and cerebral A young man in Jerusalem abandons his thesis to take a position with a disabled intellectual recluse For rom board and a small stipend he agrees to speak listen and discuss nightly with Wald five hours a night Older than he is Wald's daughter in law provides the love interestThis is a brilliantly written book covers so much informative especially for this reader who little understands the ongoing Israeli and Arab struggles Not a book that called to me definitely not a uick read but immersive once picked back up teaches much Politics the difference in the Jewish and Christian perceptions of Jesus the role of Judas all discussed nightly by Wald and SchmuelAlso a novel about a young man trying to find his way Friendship love respect crush on an older woman and the seeking of knowledge The ending I found uite poignant

  6. says:

    The narrator of Amos Oz's esoteric masterpiece is Shmuel Ash a university student recently rejected by his girlfriend who must abandon his master's thesis Jewish Views of Jesus because of his family's financial difficulties to unexpectedly seek a new means of survival in the real world of 1959 Israel Answering an advertisement offering room and board in an old Jerusalem apartment in return for entertaining the seventy year old scholar Gershom Wald with five hours of conversation every evening Shmuel does not exactly end up in the real world Besides Wald's daughter in law Atalia who provides the story's necessary love interest Shmuel will find himself among two other spirits from the past who have never left They will constantly prey upon his musings once they have entered into the conversation One is Atalia's father Sheatiel Abravanel a political opponent of David Ben Gurion who sought compromise with the Arabs The other is her husband Micha Gershom Wald's son who was killed during the fighting in 1948Within the confines of this apartment against the backdrop of the Israeli Arab conflict Amos Oz uses Shmuel to search out a rational explanation for the holocaust and the suffering of centuries of Christian pogroms and inuisitionsWith inspiration from his dialogues with Wald Shmuel's Jewish Views of Jesus evolves into what he perceives as the Christian misinterpretation of Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Jesus that put a price on the head of every Jew for centuries thereafter I do not wish to infringe upon the reader experiencing this argument first hand but it is worth mentioning that Shmuel's Judas is very similar to second century interpretations from Gnostics such as the CainitesAs I mentioned in the beginning this is an esoteric novel Mr Oz has the narrative craftsmanship to make it spellbinding by interweaving the story of Atalia's father seeking accommodation with the Arabs as a bass line counterpoint to the melody of Shmuel's Judas I consider this novel to be a soft spoken masterpieceAs a history nerd and a Catholic with a mild theological bent I was thoroughly entranced Amos Oz has jumped to the top of my list of contemporary authors

  7. says:

    ”How deep the silence is” Atalia said “You can almost hear the stones breathing” Amos Oz JudasMy friend Spenky has said “I prefer writing over plot” Spenky would love Amos Oz’s Judas The writing is beautiful This is the first work of Oz’s I have read Judas was probably not the best place to start my journey with Oz but I had heard so much about this book I wanted to read it Judas is set in Jerusalem at the end of 1959 Israel is a country rife with hostility mired in the pain of the past and unsure of her future However in one old rundown house the focus is solely on the past both recent and ancient as a young man tries to make sense of how those who believe the most are often those who are loved the least Oz’s focus here is on whom what is a traitor Considering how often Oz has been labeled a traitor it should hardly surprise anyone that he is fixated by the term’s loaded implications Oz places his examination of treason center stage focusing on nationalism and the devastating affect it can have on a people Judas is a difficult read calling upon the reader to be actively engaged all at times while inhabiting the world Oz has created If you are looking for a relaxing read Judas is not for you The storytelling is well plotted and characters expertly drawn The story’s “present” set in the brutal Jerusalem winter of 1959 – 1960 the past is set in both the Israel of 1947 – 1948 and during Jesus’ ministry Oz wisely leaves it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about Jesus and his relationship with the Jews The most fascinating sections of the book deals with Judas his relationship with Jesus This leads to a startling conclusion which mesmerizes the reader This gospel is told by none other than Judas It should be noted that the original title in Hebrew of Oz's book translates to The Gospel According to Judas Oz’s work in Chapter 47 will stay with me for uite some time Was Judas both the first and last Christian? It's an interesting argument Oz’s portrayal of Judas may be the most humane and sympathetic you ever encounter23’s of Judas are a character study of Shmuel Oz focuses on the uirks of this out of shape man the messy beard and clumsy demeanor that overshadow his kind intelligent soul His search for solitude after his relationship break up is successful and he uses his time to clear his mind through hours spent in his attic room or wandering the streets of post independence Jerusalem Once he’s recovered somewhat he turns his mental energies back to his studies of Jewish views on Jesus; it is here that Oz unleashes the full of writing talents and Judas turns towards the subject of its titleShmuel’s world revolves around Atalia and Gershom for most of the novel They are two broken individuals Inhabiting this world is destroying Shmuel although neither he nor the reader realizes this until the end of the novel Shmuel is infatuated with the widow Atalia despite Gershom’s warnings It is she who holds the most sway over Shmuel and he gradually gives himself over to her Despite feeling sympathy for both Shmuel and Atalia neither is very likeable We clearly see the faults and shortcomings of these two and yet Judas does succeed as a love story albeit a very unconventional sort of love story Oz’s language is poetic as he effortlessly transports us from 1959 Israel to the Israel of 1947 and ancient Jerusalem and back again Judas was spellbinding By the time I closed the cover I had come to realize that there are many forms of betrayal and a traitor is not always a traitor

  8. says:

    One man's traitor is another man's loyalist In Amos Oz's new tome Judas a coming of age novel the theme of loyalty is explored Shmuel Ash a shy emotional twenty five year old university student is adrift He is dealt three blows to his ho hum existence; loss of funding for school due to his father's bankruptcya breakup with his girlfriend and stalled research on his masters thesis on Jewish Views of Jesus Shmuel replies to an ad seeking a part time caregiver and companion for a seventy year old invalid with room board and a small stipend includedGershom Wald an emotionally detached septuagenarian delivers scathing lectures and arguments daily by phone to sparring partners Shmuel must keep Gershom verbally engaged from 5PM to 11PMResiding in the dark dreary silent home with Gershom Wald is Atalia Abravanel war widow and Wald's daughter in law Atalia has a hypnotic alluring hold on Shmuel's emotionsSpending the winter of 1959 1960 in this household Shmuel considers whether Atalia's father Shealtiel Abravanel was a traitor Abravanel opposed the creation of Israel in 1948 feeling that Jews and Arabs should live together as euals He was asked to resign his post in the Zionist Executive Committee Traitor or loyalist?Shmuel starts to rethink his views on Judas Perhaps Judas was not a traitor Perhaps although misguided he was the first Christian Without Judas Jesus would not have died for our sins Perhaps Judas was not a traitor but used by God as an instrument of changeJudas in a multi faceted tome It is hoped that peace love and understanding might one day prevail Kudos to Amos OzThank you Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review Judas by Amos Oz

  9. says:

    On Hurting God There must seem something paradoxical to some of the religious folks in the idea that anyone could in anyway hurt God or his relative They thus want to argue that such people who might have done something against God were in fact folks who just wanted to Give the God and relations leverage to create drama or God made them that way for drama Many versions of Ramayana would have you believe that Ravana in fact was a devotee of Rama and all he did was to get killed from same talk about Machoist love Bible said God made Pharaoh refuses Moses' offers so that he could bring plagues to Egypt to prove his existence and then they blame me for creating scenes a Borges version said Pharaoh was intentionally serving God by refusing Moses' offers and letting his people suffer and die On Judas It is thus natural that a similar argument should be visited upon Judas by some of Christians How could anyone betray Jesus? No it makes sense to believe Judas was in one way or other serving Jesus And yet had it not been for Judas there might not have been a crucifixion and had there been no crucifixion there would have been no Christianity In this case there is a lot of room for arguments some of them are forwarded by the author himself Though two most obvious ones aren't why should Judas kill himself after seeing Jesus' death? What kind of guilt did he feel if he wants Jesus to die? It would have made sense if he had killed himself on seeing Jesus' rise again ain't it? Again if Jesus had foreknowledge of what was about to happen as he showed at the last supper then why didn't he left the place? Oz isn't the first man to see those holes in the story they are so very old A very impressive short story on same lines is Judas Iscariot by Leonid Andreyev On Traitors Anyways Judas has been turned into an unwilling brand ambassador of all traitors the only others I know who have anything even vaguely approaching his popularity are Brutus and Vibhishana Judas also came to be a major reason behind Christian prejudice for Jews though he had turned Christian understandable religious people do not like to think evil people belong to their religion Though as a character in book argues that Christians would have found one reason to hate Jews one way or otherCan a traitor be in fact serving his mater by hisher betrayal? Oz should know being labeled a traitor by some people in his own country Anyone willing to change” Shmuel said “will always be considered a traitor by those who cannot change and are scared to death of change and don’t understand it and loathe change For a person wants a change because he is not happy with present ways and people who are not satisfied with something are going to criticise it Those who refuse to change think of it betrayal Oz was called traitor because he supported two nation solution like a character Abravanal within the novel The ultra nationalists who call then that must be like those RSS BJP supporters who think anyone differing with them is a traitor On Israel and Nationalistm Abravanal was perhaps too idealist in believing that Jews and Arabs could live together without there being a nation of any sort needing a military etc he believed there should be no nations at all He believed that Jews and Arabs have both suffered at hands of Europe and so can be natural friends what he forgot was that they had trust issues understandably with exactly because of that very reason “The fact is that all the power in the world cannot transform someone who hates you into someone who likes you It can turn a foe into a slave but not into a friend All the power in the world cannot transform a fanatic into an enlightened man All the power in the world cannot transform someone thirsting for vengeance into a lover” Shmuel who is a bit of baby boy too saw how unjust it was And even if we suppose that Shealtiel Abravanel was right in his opinion that all nation states were a disaster and a scourge even if he was right in saying that the scourge of nationalism would soon disappear and all states would wither surely at least until the vision of a stateless world finally became a reality at least so long as every nation had bars on its windows and bolts and locks on its doors was it not also ght that the Jewish nation should have a small house with bolts and bars just like all the others? And especially after a third of this nation was slaughtered a few years earlier only because they did not have a house or a door with a lock or a piece of territory of their own? Or an army and weapons to defend themselves? When the day came that all the nations would finally rise up to demolish the walls dividing them then definitely by all means we too would willingly demolish the walls we had built around us and happily join in the general festivities Even if out of neurotic caution perhaps this time we would not necessarily be the first in the world to give up our bolts and bars Perhaps this time for a change we would be the third in the world or the fourth in our region Just to be on the safe side In the end that is the only argument for nations to exist lack of mutual trust among peopleIt is a novel of ideas and is at its best when discussing them The plot line is thin The areas where it does try to have a plot are the weakestFinally if you really care about my opinion I think both Jewish claims based on their religious books and Arab's claims of owning land for having lived their for centuries are eually stupid You do not own a land just because you were there first or have been there for centuries which is another thing those Hindu nationalists of my country don't understand It is inhuman to ask people to leave their home or to deny homes to those in need on basis of those absurd reasons even if it is for two state solution which is just the best of bad solutions Anyone should have a right to live anywhere provided their innocence Right? To me the blame for the problem really lies with Europe New and Arabs are just two oppressing races fighting fighting because their histories have taught them that 'neurotic caution' More uotes Is it really possible for us all without exception to love all of us without exception all of the time? Did Jesus himself love everyone all of the time? Did he for example love the moneychangers at the gates of the Temple when in a fit of rage he violently overturned their tables? Or when he proclaimed ‘I came not to send peace on earth but a sword’—did he forget at that moment his own exhortation to general love and his commandment to turn the other cheek? Or when he urged his apostles to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves? And especially when he said according to Luke ‘But those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them which would not that I should reign over them bring hither and slay them before meHave you ever thought my young friend how right the English were when they invented the excellent phrase ‘to fall in love’?”The real tragedy of humankind’ Shealtiel used to say ‘is not that the persecuted and enslaved crave to be liberated and to hold their heads high No The worst thing is that the enslaved secretly dream of enslaving their enslavers The persecuted yearn to be persecutors The slaves dream of being masters

  10. says:

    Reposting in tribute to Amos Oz who passed away today Anyone willing to change Shmuel said will always be considered a traitor by those who cannot change and are scared to death of change and don't understand it and loathe changeBook 10 of 13 from my reading of the 2017 Man Booker International longlistI have previously read Amos Oz’s classic A Tale of Love and Darkness also translated by Nicholas de Lange which was very strong Judas isn’t uite in that league but than worthy of its place on the MBI longlist and a thought provoking read Judas is a story from the winter days of the end of 1959 and the beginning of 1960 set in then still divided Jerusalem a decade after the 1948 Arab Israel warShmuel Ash is 25 years old and studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he is working on his Master’s thesis on the “Jewish views of Jesus” However he is in something of a crisis his girlfriend Yardena abruptly leaves him to marry a previous boyfriend; his entirely non proletarian and only 6 strong “Socialist Renewal Group” undergoes a schism after the revelations about Stalin at the 20th Congress and crucially among the four who split off were the two girls in the Group without whom there was no longer any point; and his financial support dries up as his parents are bankrupted in a lawsuit with their business partnerShmuel is a wonderfully sketched character – simultaneously younger and older in spirit than his age would imply the following is a edited excerpt of the character sketch He would be instantly intoxicated by new ideas provided they were wittily dressed up and involved a paradox But he also tended to tire uickly possibly on account of an enlarged heart and his asthma His eyes filled easily with tears which caused him embarrassment and even shame He loved to lecture anyone who would listen particularly his comrades from the Socialist Renewal Group he loved to clarify to state the facts to contradict to refute and to reinvent He spoke at length with enjoyment wit and brio But when the reply came when it was his turn to listen to others' ideas Shmuel was suddenly impatient distracted tired until his eyes closed and his tousled head sank down onto his shaggy chest He was kindhearted generous brimming with goodwill and as soft as a woollen glove going out of his way to make himself useful but at the same time he was muddled and impatient He never knew where he had put his other sock what exactly his landlord wanted from him or who he had lent his lectures notes to On the other hand he was never muddled when he stood up to uote with deviating accuracy what Kropotkin had said about Nechayev after their first meeting and what he had said two years later Or which of Jesus' apostles was less talkative than the rest A few days before she left him Yardena said 'Either you're like an excited puppy rushing around noisily even when you're sitting on a chair you're somehow chasing your own tail or else you're the opposite lying on your bed for days on end like an unaired uilt’He rushed across but roads at an angle hurling himself into the heart of a skirmish his bushy bearded head thrust forward his body leaning with it as if eager for the fray His legs always seemed to be chasing after his body which in turn was pursuing his head as if they were afraid of being left behind when he disappeared around the next cornerOnce he met Stalin In a dream The meeting took place In a low back room in the grimy cafe where the Socialist Renewal Group convened He failed to explain to Stalin who was smiling under his moustache why the Jews rejected Jesus and why they still stubbornly turned their backs on him Stalin called him JudasHe decides to abandon his studies and return home when he spots an advert on the University noticeboard Offered to a single humanities student with conversational skills and an interest in history free accommodation and a modest monthly sum in return for spending five hours per evening with a seventy year old invalid an educated widely cultured man He is able to take care of himself and seeks company not assistance He takes the role and finds himself in the uiet home with no visitors other than the cook and cleaner that the elderly Gershom Wald shares with the mid 40s Atalia AbranavelAtalia is the daughter of the late Shealtiel Abranavel In Oz’s novel the fictional Shealtiel was the lone dissenter from the Zionist Executive Committee and the Council of the Jewish Agency in the post War period who per Wald tried in vain to persuade Ben Gurion in 1948 that it was still possible to reach an agreement with the Arabs about the departure of the British and and the creation of a single joint condominium of Jews and Arabs if we only agreed to renounce the idea of a Jewish state after which he resigns jumped or pushed being unclear and lived out his life in self imposed internal exile condemned after the 1948 War as a traitor by his former colleaguesAmos Oz himself is known as a long term advocate of a two state solution to the Palestinian uestion and one expects his sympathies lie with the “Judas” Shealtiel but through the differing views of the Zionist Wald and the secular Marxist Shmuel we get a balanced account of the issueShealtiel’s argument was that the Arabs feared that a Jewish state could ultimately in decades to come dominate the area giving rise to the conflict whereas Wald has the opposite view I actually think that than the Arabs feared the future power of Jews they were tempted by their present weaknessand There's no one uite like Ben Gurion' Wald said 'The Jewish people has never before had such a far sighted leader as Ben Gurion Few understand as he does that ‘the people shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned amongst the nations’ is a curse not a blessingThe exact relationship between these characters and why they are living such an isolated life is part of the this novel of ideas’s relatively limited plot development view spoilerAtalia is Wald’s widowed daughter in law Her husband and his son a mathematician volunteered despite a medical issue that should have kept him from active service and then died a horrible death in the 1948 war leaving Atalia and Wald both devastated recluses in Atalia’s father’s house joining him in his self imposed exile Atalia disillusioned with life and men with their macho desires to take part in wars employs students like Shmuel so she doesn’t have to keep debating events over and over with Wald students who she usually allows to fall in love with her giving them a night or two of her affections before asking them to leave and seeking a replacement hide spoiler