His marriage collapses, his life stops, and he turns into a madman, a psychotic transient wandering around in the USA. His old father finds him and brings him back to Tel Aviv. And in 2024, Bram runs a little bureau that helps parents of children who have disappeared as well in this Jewish ghetto-city called Israel. And after a devastating attack, apparently executed by a young Jew who disappeared in the same period as Bram's child, Bram starts to hope again, starts to think that maybe his son is still alive, just like these other Jewish boys – a group that seems to have been kidnapped and trained to become Muslim suicide killers, Jewish kids who will come back to Israel to kill their parents.
Gardels: Your book has caused a huge stir in Germany, where it has just been published. Some critics charge that your dark vision of the future abets an increasing chorus of voices that argue the founding of Israel was a mistake in the first place.
De Winter: Let me first be clear about my personal loyalties (which are not always identical to my loyalties as a novelist): I am an admirer of the Zionist project, of the historical necessity, to use a Marxist phrase, to create a safe haven for European Jews as a reaction to 19th century anti-Semitism.
It has been a breathtaking adventure – but it did not happen in a geographical or cultural or historical vacuum. It happened when the Islamic world was slowly awakening from the enormous blow executed by giant European forces, beginning with Napoleon's easy march into Egypt in 1798, and by the search by Arab and Muslim intellectuals for their own answers to the question why their universe collapsed.