Judt's mother and father were British citizens and secular Jews.  Judt enthusiastically embraced Zionism at age 15. For a time he wished to emigrate to Israel, against the wishes of his parents, who were concerned about his studies. In 1966, having won an exhibition to King's College, Cambridge , he worked for the summer on kibbutz Machanaim . When Nasser expelled UN troops from Sinai in 1967, and Israel mobilized for war, he volunteered to replace kibbutz members who had been called up. During and in the aftermath of the Six-Day War , he worked as a driver and translator for the Israel Defense Forces .  After the war, Judt's belief in the Zionist enterprise began to unravel.