By Jeffrey F. Barken/JNS.org
Click photo to download. Caption: The cover of Noah Beck’s “The Last Israelis.” Credit: 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 the Israeli submarine “Dolphin” 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
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
Click photo to download. Caption: The Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor in Iran. Noah Beck’s novel “The Last Israelis” imagines Israel’s destruction by Iranian nukes. Credit: Nanking2012/Wikimedia Commons.
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
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 …read more