Iran Nuclear Weapons Destroy Israel in Novel That Brings Fear to Life (REVIEW)

July 4, 2013 9:09 am 10 comments

The cover of Noah Beck's "The Last Israelis," in which Iran nuclear weapons destroy Israel. Photo: Israeli Submarine Force Veterans Association and National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Site Office.

“You and your crew of 34, Daniel. You are the last Israelis. You are all that is left. But you have no home. You must go somewhere else,” Gabriel Cohen, an IDF emergency contact officer stranded in Greece, informs the captain of Israel’s Dolphin submarine in Noah Beck’s latest novel, The Last Israelis.

Israel has been destroyed in a nuclear attack, and now Daniel and his crew must choose their course. Do they still fulfill their mission of retaliation and deliver a lethal strike to the enemy, or do they abandon ship?

For Israelis, a new era is dawning. Beyond the menace of constant terror and conventional warfare, there is the looming threat of total annihilation. The Last Israelis, imagines the ultimate catastrophe of failed Middle East diplomacy, should Iran’s nuclear program be allowed to continue unchecked.

Sensing the historical moment of the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran that took place in Baghdad in May of 2012, Beck submits his novel as a narrative summary of the crisis, highlighting the unique and important Jewish culture that is endangered by Iran’s increasingly menacing nuclear capability.

The novel borrows themes from traditional Cold War literature. By replacing the Soviet adversary with Iran’s fundamentalist theocracy, however, Beck suggests that in the Middle East, MAD, the concept of mutually assured destruction, may not be enough to prevent either side from pulling the trigger.

When Israel’s fictional prime minister in the novel receives confirmation that Iran has reached a critical stage in their weapons program, and that Israel no longer has the capability to attack their nuclear facilities, an irreversible chain of events is set in motion. The prime minister immediately puts Israel on high alert and warns the president of the United States that Israel will launch a preemptive attack. The crisis further intensifies when the prime minister succumbs to an acute neurological disease and is rushed to a hospital in Germany. Now the defense of Israel falls upon an inexperienced deputy prime minister and the crew of the Dolphin.

Although readers may find some of the subplots aboard the Dolphin submarine superfluous, this extremely well-researched book mines the depths of history and will be an important resource. Beck has skillfully populated his vessel with sailors representative of nearly every element of Israeli society. There are Ethiopians aboard ship, second-generation refugees from Vietnam, Iran, Russia, and Christian Arabs. In their close quarters and under extreme stress, these men rally despite their differences. They are predators, enduring torturous pressures deep below the sea, yet prey to hostile enemy submarines.

The Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor in Iran. Noah Beck's novel "The Last Israelis" imagines Israel's destruction by Iranian nukes. Photo: Nanking2012/Wikimedia Commons.

Between action sequences, Beck fleshes out competing contemporary opinions about Israel. The sailors grumble that Israel is perceived as an aggressor, even when the country provides humanitarian aid. Likewise, many are frustrated that the country’s most accomplished professionals are snubbed when boycotted by certain western institutions in response to Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories. What is most telling of the real political and emotional climate in Israel, however, is a haunting sense of fear that unites the crew.

“Remember when the Iranians organized an international ‘World Without Zionism Conference?’” one sailor remembers his father asking during a brief picnic the crew enjoyed with their families prior to shipping out for the Strait of Hormuz. The Ayatollahs have “been preparing the Iranian public, and the Muslim world at large, for the idea that the world will be a better place if Israel is destroyed,” the sailor adds.

Decades of Iran’s anti-Israel rhetoric are examined, but contradicting backgrounds and emotions prevent consensus amongst the crew. Through serious debate, many of the seamen conclude that a nuclear Iran is a brainwashed society on an unstoppable path to war with Israel, a modern Armageddon.

“How has the world not seen this for what it is?” one sailor, Eitan, asks after listening to his comrade list outrageous instances of Iranian propaganda. Beck’s sonar has detected a growing sense of abandonment in Israel and his characters echo the country’s malaise of constant terror and chronic despair.

Nevertheless, the notion of nuclear deterrence provides little comfort to the men tasked with delivering the missiles. On the contrary, the sailors back away from the power they possess, concerned either that they don’t have the authority to attack, or that they will violate the laws of the Torah by killing so many innocent civilians.

This debate charts the crew’s descent toward anarchy. “The point is that everything about this boat—from who commands it to what we can do with the weapons on it—was determined by a society that apparently no longer exists any more,” argues Yisrael, the Dolphin’s second-ranking officer. “Things become somewhat arbitrary at that point.”

The Last Israelis contemplates a frighteningly realistic and rapidly unfolding nightmare of apocalyptic proportions. Beck is very forward in his preface and epilogue to the book, indicting the western powers for wasting the last opportunities to pressure Iran into giving up its nuclear program, yet his characters are somewhat less pessimistic. “At some point, you just have to operate the sub on faith and a prayer,” Daniel, the Dolphin’s captain, thinks as he gives orders to dive through thrilling suspense and steers his vessel ever closer to confrontation.

Noah Beck’s “The Last Israelis” is available in ebook, audiobook, or paperback format, and from various retailers here.

Jeffrey F. Barken frequently reports on Israel news topics and Jewish-interest literature. A graduate of Cornell University and the University of Baltimore’s MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing, he is the author of “This Year in Jerusalem,” a collection of stories based on his experiences living on a kibbutz in Southern Israel from 2009-2010.

10 Comments

  • This dream that Israelis are brought to justice for their crimes is just a dream, sadly.

    That the nuke-armed bully-boy of the Middle East feels the need to play the victim with sad propaganda like this is just pathetic.

    Obviously, nuclear annihilation is what the genocidal theocrats of Israel deserve. But in the end, they will probably just destroy themselves, after and few more decades of festering in their own malignancy.

    • How sad that we could wish to kill children in the name of revenge. Would that make us just as bad as them. If we are prepared to inflict indescribable pain and surffering upon innocence. May Allah truly recall all his lost children . This is not the way of true Muslims.

    • Robert you got it all wrong
      Israel has 7 million people are the bullies here bullying 500 million Muslims, Israel is the only democracy in the ME have you know.
      Israel is the only place where women or non Moslems can freely practice their religion and so on…

  • Israel being nuked…..ahhhhh, we can all hope can’t we.

    • Sure you “can hope” gsr. But someday you’ll die and we can all hope you’ll spend eternity in that nuclear hell you wish on G-d’s people, Israel.

    • Replying to GSR: Whether you yourself are a Jew is irrelevant. You are undeniably a despicable Antisemite without the courage to express your loathsome, horrific views under your real name. Israel is home to more than 6 million Jews, now the world’s single largest Jewish community. Israel is also the aboriginal homeland of the Jewish People, where some “then” self-identified Jews have always lived. Specifically, Jews have continually lived in Israel, in each and every year since the birth of the “then” self-identified “Jewish” People around the 6th century BCE. To advocate using nuclear weapons to destroy Israel is calling for the mass slaughter of Jews. This is to advocate for the crime of genocide. The mere expression of such an evil wish is also a profound instance of that human-rights violation known as “discrimination,” of which Antisemitism is a subset. With respect to such discrimination, human-rights methodologies technically offer no exemption for a so-called greater good to be derived from whatever ideology or cause. You are a vile Antisemite no matter what your pretended justification! Your morally repulsive hope for the annihilation of Israel and the death of the more than 6 million Jews there should remind us why one of the oldest Peoples in the world most certainly needs a country and a strong army. If I were not already a Zionist, you GSR would suffice to make me a committed Zionist. GSR, where do you live? If any city or country is to be nuked, why not start with the country and city where you and your family live?

  • To Dan Goldberg:
    How do you know? How do you know they won’t walk their talk? How can you be sure? Never heard of genocide?

  • The Israeli writer lives in a ghetto mentality which has nothing to do with reality! Iran will never attack Israel.

    D.G.

  • Otto Schiff

    The US used nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki even though the war was virtually over. Once weapons exist they
    will be used. The answer to this dilemma is universal disarmament.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.