A Submarine Thriller's Voyage Into Doomsday

Friday, December 07, 2012 |  Karen Brown

"The Last Israelis" is a fictional account of "future history" involving a catastrophic conflict produced by Iranian nukes. Ripped straight from the headlines, this cautionary tale has a deeply disturbing and powerful message for the dithering world powers that have failed to stop Iran's nuclear program.

In the story (as in reality), Iran has been threatening to annihilate Israel while actively developing the nuclear means to do so. But in the novel, we are taken forward in time to see a frightening picture of what the world could look like after Iran goes nuclear: a doomed Middle East with a nightmare scenario that hopefully never leaves the realm of fiction.

Most of the Armageddon thriller takes place aboard the Dolphin submarine, Israel’s "second-strike" answer to the existential threat posed by a nuclear Iran. Daniel Zion, captain of the Dolphin, is abruptly ordered to cut his military drill short and bring his crew back to shore. His gut tells him that something ominous is happening, as he and the 34 seamen under his command return for a brief visit with their loved ones, before commencing a mission that will determine the course of history.

The Dolphin’s crew members – and their discussions – are fascinating because they reflect the complexity and diversity of Israeli society. There are descendants of Holocaust survivors; native Arabic speakers (one Christian and one Druze); the son of Persian Jews who escaped from the Iranian revolution of 1979; an Ethiopian who crossed Sudan by foot as a child to reach Israel; religious Jews who serve on a mostly secular crew; the atheist son of a Soviet Refusenik; a submariner who holds staunchly right-wing views and another who secretly attends leftist rallies; and a homosexual whose parents were among the Vietnamese refugee boat-people saved by Israel in 1977.

How do all of these people get along during months away from home, living in close quarters, facing deadly threats at sea? Their voyage has enough naval action and drama to rival the suspense of a Tom Clancy novel. But the book is also an intellectual thriller, featuring some riveting debates about war, ethics, geopolitics, religion, and the protection of minorities. The author does an excellent job of giving voice to every political and philosophical perspective, and thereby shows the depth, diversity, and nuance of the Israeli body politic.

The drama mounts due to the rivalry and suspicion between the captain and his deputy, and the fact that one of the junior seamen suffered a tragic horror as a child and quietly lives with the resulting emotional scars -- psychological wounds that explode unpredictably.

But the gripping and unforgettable climax occurs when the submariners are compelled to confront an unthinkable dilemma that brings their ideological differences to a head.

Noah Beck says that he first conceived of the doomsday thriller in 2009 as a movie concept that could help to increase public pressure to stop Iranian nukes. "The premise was boiling with dramatic potential. But writing a screenplay that within months becomes a widely released film is like Ayatollah Khameini taking a phone call from me and agreeing to dismantle Iran's nuclear program: impossible. Years later, in March of 2012, after I was still hearing the same type of weak talk and indecision about the Iranian nuclear issue, I resolved to drop everything and work on this story as an e-book, which can be released instantly.”

Published last July, the novel has ranked well in the category of war fiction but it will have to become a bestseller in all book categories before it can truly impact public opinion on the Iranian nuclear issue. More details about the book and its author can be found at www.TheLastIsraelis.com.

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