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July 18, 2012

Doomsday Scenario Explored in Novel ‘The Last Israelis’

Iran acquires nuclear weapons and Israel and the United States have only a window of a week to ensure pre-emptive capability. Shortly after hearing the news, the Israeli Prime Minister slips into a coma. Enemies of Israel announce it will soon be the end of the Jewish state. Are their words simply bravado or a real threat? The crew of the Israeli sub “The Dolphin” heads out into deadly waters and is prepared to fire nuclear weapons against Iran if need be. And among many questions that arise, there is one that sticks out in Noah Beck’s new novel “The Last Israelis.”

“Where the hell was the world?” asks Michael, a submariner who can’t understand how Iran was not stopped before it got to the point where it reached nuclear capability.

“The Last Israelis” is a novel that is gripping, chilling and is one that should be brought to the silver screen. It brings to mind elements of “Crimson Tide,” “The Hunt For Red October” and “U-571.” The claustrophobic effects are there as you’ll feel like you’re on the sub with the world on the brink of disaster. Don’t start reading this novel if you have somewhere to be. You’ll probably miss your appointment.

The story follows a crew, led by Daniel and his second-in command, Yisrael, who do not see eye-to-eye on many things. Yisrael also suspects his wife is sleeping with Daniel. Another named Bao is considering telling the crew he is gay. There are also two Arab members of the crew, Samir and Boutros, who are called upon to step up in a dramatic moment. Then there’s Zvi, whose father and sister are killed years before in the 2003 Maxim restaurant suicide bombing attack in Haifa. Zvi reverts back to his nightmare, in which he’s 11. It is here that we see the most chilling moments of the novel. Beck cleverly crafts a Kubrick-like morbidity with “headless people trying to eat their meals,” and limbless waiters walking around like zombies…”

But then the father says to his daughter: “We’ll have a perfect spot in the shade so that the rest of the family doesn’t get hot when they come to put flowers on our tombs.”

If that line isn’t creepy, I don’t know what is. While Zvi has his nightmare, Jacob has pleasant dreams of Brooklyn, the birthplace of stars like Michael Jordan, Chris Rock and Larry David. But Jacob is finally told that it’s the United States he longs for, not really Brooklyn.

“You just want to live in a big safe country with no problems,” Yisrael tells Jacob.

“Where the day’s headlines are about firemen saving cats from trees rather than unprovoked rocket attacks by Hamas targeting civilians in Sderot,” adds Bao.

So what will be the headline at the end of their mission? Beck ratchets up the tension as the 35-man crew must fight to stay alive. They go through a number of challenges as they attempt to get to the area needed for the possible launch. Even in such a serious story, there is some fitting humor weaved in. While some portions of “The Last Israelis” are predictable, the twists and turns pay off in big way. Even if you’re not an expert on Iran and no matter what political side you are on, “The Last Israelis” is a must-read. To be sure, in real life, there is no easy answer to the current predicament. Batman and Spider-Man have cool outfits but real life requires real heroes. And real heroes are often young men who know little of life and put their lives on the line.

The novel asks many questions, such as: How important is revenge? Are civilian casualties acceptable as part of collateral damage? Who is the party to blame: the one who attacks first or the one who plans to attack first? What is the most basic element of Israeli society that is constant? Should a Jewish military force have a value system that is different from any other? What about the lives of the innocent Iranian people who don’t share the maniacal views of their leaders?

There is also the ironic distinction the men on “The Dolphin” face. They believe for years the threat was clear and nothing was done. As they are underwater and for some time, the exact threat is unclear, but they still must do something. While the subject matter may be painful, the read is a pleasure, due to the pace of the plot, the dialogue and the emotional tug.

It should be noted that the author told The Blueprint in a phone interview that the he originally intended to write a screenplay, but realized that due to the timeliness of the events, he could not wait a year or more for the time it takes to make a movie or even get a traditional book deal. Thus, he decided to release it on amazon.com for electronic devices such as the kindle, iPad and the PC.

Few of us can imagine what it would be like to be on a submarine with such an enormous responsibility at such a precarious time. But most can understand the inevitable truth that while we cannot choose the way we die, we can sometimes choose the way in which we live. In the story, Michael is critical of the Allied forces, who did not bomb the rails transporting Jews to the death camps during World War II. And the story’s strongest question may be the one shared by some as they walked into the gas chambers: “Where the hell is the world?”

“The Last Israelis”

by Noah Beck
thelastisraelis.com
Source: http://nyblueprint.com/articles/view.aspx?id=1124