The Betrayers

The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis

An ex-Soviet Israeli political figure escapes to Crimea, only to find his former friend who turned him into the Soviet authorities years ago. The setup is enticing. Even more, Kotler is being attacked by his political opponents for voicing opposition to the demolition of a settlement. Yes this is fiction. The whole story takes place over 24 hours and it moves quick. Overall, I was a little disappointed due to the lack of a climax in the story.

1) ‘But that’s the problem with sympathies. One keeps needing to prove them.’ – Kotler

That sucks -> I’m so sorry for your loss -> Actions -> ??

2) Kotler knew he wasn’t fast, but he wanted to please his father.

Eerily almost identical to the theme from Kite Runner. Is it really that important to not disappoint one’s father? I’ve never really thought about this, but now that I do, I’d agree.

3) ‘But who cares about the country if it destroys our family? The country doesn’t care.’ – Dafna

I can sort of relate this to the generational divide around the Umbrella Revolution. Also, one rule that I think everyone should live by: don’t cry for anyone or anything that won’t cry for you. Since things don’t cry, never cry over inanimate objects.

4) What was the point of a Jewish prayer? What was the point of it from the very beginning? One point: Zion. A return to Zion….Only in Zion was it not for Zion.

Given that I’m agnostic, the notion of a religious state is fascinating.

5) ‘Stand up, Mr. Tankilevich. If you are fit enough to do this, you are fit enough to go to the synagogue.’ – Nina

We are all guilty of this. Taking detours. Asking for help without trying first. Doing everything possible to avoid doing something else that seems too difficult. In the end, we are all probably better off just tackling the problem.

6) ‘Who shed more blood than the Russian people? But nobody gives use special favors, do they?’ – the Russian

Russia lost over 20 million people, about 14% of its population. The U.S. lost less than 500,000. It’s not all about the numbers, but it puts WWII¬†in perspective.

7) First the Soviet sham, then the capitalist. For the ordinary citizen, these were just two different varieties of poison. The current variety served in a nicer bottle.

8) This is what they had done when they withdrew from the Gaza settlements in 2005, and they were doing it again, as if a mistake stubbornly repeated could yield different results. To uproot thousands of your own people. To make casualties of them for no discernible purpose. It was gross incompetence. If you were not willing to protect your people, you should not have encouraged them to live in that place, and if you were not going to encourage them to live in that place, you should never have held the territory. There was no middle ground. Once you had committed to one, you had committed to all. The time for simply walking away had long passed. Now you stayed at any cost or exchanged a pound of flesh for a pound of flesh. That was all. Nothing else.

Probably the mainstream pro-settlement argument. And it’s hard to argue against it. Every action has consequences. Think about the consequences before taking actions.

9) ‘To force someone to perform a religious duty is an insult. An insult twice over. To the person and to God.’ – Svetlana¬†

10) A saint loved the world more than any single person, while a man loved one person more than the whole world.

You don’t have to be a saint.


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