Based on the Amos Oz novella "Panther in the Basement,"
The Little Traitor
muddles through the story of a boy's coming of age in a nascent nation.
The man-child is Proffy (short for "Professor"), a Jewish lad on the brink of adolescence in 1947 Palestine under the British Mandate. The nation is Israel, on the brink of creation. The panther in the basement reasonably might refer either to Proffy's budding sexuality or to stealthy Jewish resistance fighters rising up against British occupation.
To maintain domination over Jews and Arabs in Palestine, the British impose a strict curfew of 6 p.m. Proffy and his pals, who play Jew vs. Brit as American kids once played cowboys and Indians, dream of ambushing the British soldiers.