Tony Judt, Historian and Critic of Israel, Dies at 62

A Pulitzer Prize finalist for his nearly history of modern Europe, 'Postwar', Judt was diagnosed in 2008 with ALS.

Tony Judt, a highly praised and controversial historian who wrote with sharp persistence about the changing world at large and the tragic world within - the fatal disease that paralyzed him - died Friday at his home in New York City.

Judt, a native of London who in recent years was a professor of European studies at New York University, was 62. His death, caused by complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, was confirmed by a university spokesman.

Shahar Azran

A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2006 for his nearly 900-page history of modern Europe, "Postwar," Judt was diagnosed two years later with ALS, which attacks nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

A Jew descended from Lithuanian rabbis, Judt was sent by his parents to a summer camp in Israel when he was a teenager and became so devoted to the Jewish homeland that he spoke at a Zionist conference in Paris and served as a translator and driver for the Israel Defense Forces during and after the 1967 Six-Day War.

But he soured on his adopted country, later concluding "that most Israelis were not transplanted latter-day agrarian socialists but young, prejudiced urban Jews who differed from their European or American counterparts chiefly in their macho, swaggering self-confidence, and access to armed weapons," he wrote in 2010.

In a 1983 article for The New York Review of Books, Judt labeled Israel a "belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno state."

While most liberals supported a two-state solution, separate lands for the Jews and the Palestinians, Judt called for the two sides to be joined under a single government.

"Apparently, the line you take on Israel trumps everything else in life," Judt told the Financial Times in 2007.