The book’s plot sprang from a thought experiment:
- What if the End Times arrive, and the traditional Jewish version is the true version?
- How will the world react to the return of the God of Israel?
- How will the Jews themselves react?
- What if progressive and secular Jews reject God, preferring apostasy to the necessity of telling their atheist, Muslim, Christian and Hindu friends and associates their beliefs are wrong?
The novel’s protagonist, Jacob Zvi, is a 20-something graduate student at Tulane University. Born in New Orleans, he made aliyah to Israel as a high schooler with his parents but, unable to face the pressures of life as an Israeli, he returned to New Orleans to pursue a doctoral degree.
He broke with his parents and adopted country in the process.
Now a cynical post-Zionist who swims in the sea of anti-Israeli sentiment on campus, Jacob is researching his dissertation on dhimmitude porn and eking out a living returning stolen grocery carts in exchange for recovery fees.
Jacob’s journey of tshuvah, or return, begins when an Israeli consul visits Tulane to give a talk on the current crisis in Israel and Palestine. The demoralized leftist government in Israel has given the Palestinians everything the international community has demanded for them — a full retreat by Israel to the 1948 armistice borders, a completely independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem and its capital and the absorbing of millions of Palestinian refugees into Israel proper.
But this has proven to not be enough — the Palestinians and their leftist Western backers demand still more. Creative Palestinian propagandists have invented Qu’aranic legends to supposedly justify demands for the surrender of chunks of Israeli territory within the 1948 lines.
A Preview of Today’s Collegiate Nightmares
The Israeli consul has to be placed in a protective cage on the stage of McAlister Auditorium from which to present his nation’s side. University administrators allow the audience to bring with them eggs, tomatoes, rotten fruit, and other garbage to hurl at the consul, who is quickly inundated with detritus while trying to make his argument.
Jacob witnesses a foreign student from Saudi Arabia, a personal acquaintance, hurl a Molotov cocktail. It bounces off the cage and sets the stage on fire, resulting in a panicked exit of the attendees.
The next morning, he reads in the Tulane newspaper that the fire was caused by an electrical short. Infuriated by what he sees as a likely cover-up, he heads to campus security to report on what he saw.
The head of security warns him not to file a complaint and to let matters lie, but Jacob persists. Within days, he is called before a gathering of the university president, Tulane’s lead council, the head of Jacob’s academic department, and Jacob’s doctoral advisor. They all demand he retract his statement or face the loss of his academic stipend.
Also pressuring Jacob to retract is his own Hillel rabbi and spiritual advisor, Rabbi Helvetica Rhinehold, a theologian of the ultra-progressive Reconstructionist-Renewalist denomination and daughter of violent 1960s radicals.
Rabbi Helvetica looms over the novel like Milton’s Satan dominates “Paradise Lost.”
When Satire Meets the Ugly Truth
Although full of science fiction and apocalyptic tropes, the book was very much intended as a social and political satire, a tool with which to metaphorically grab hold of the shoulders of Jewish defenders of Hamas and shake them out of their willful blindness and self-destructive moral vanities.
I created Rabbi Helvetica as an exaggerated distillation of all the performative self-negating antics I was seeing from progressive Jewish groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street and the Tikkun crowd.
I hoped that perhaps ridicule might succeed in opening a few eyes where appeals to common sense or solidarity had failed.
My then-literary agent sent the book out to editors only reluctantly, pointedly asking me, “Are you ready for the fatwa?” I needn’t have worried, at least not in 2012 or 2013, for none of the six publishers he sent it to showed any interest.
We parted ways in early 2022 by mutual agreement after he had been unable to find buyers for a dozen of my novels. Sans agent, I submitted my unsold manuscripts, including “The End of Daze,” to whatever markets I could.
I finally gained traction when I discovered a tiny Texas publisher, Madness Heart Press, that was seeking science fiction, fantasy and horror manuscripts for its Jewish-centered imprint Aggadah Try It.
They put out “The End of Daze” with limited distribution in May 2023.
In June 2023 I traveled to New Orleans to visit with my mother-in-law and to do some small bookstore events to support the novel. A tiny crowd showed for my reading at Octavia Books, among them my old college literature professor who I’d last seen in 1986.
He asked good questions and kindly bought a couple of copies, intending to give one to a Jewish professor friend at Tulane. A few weeks later, we exchanged messages; I held my breath while opening his emails, for I recalled speaking as an undergraduate with him in his office, dominated by framed photographs of him posing in a checkered kaffiyeh and holding a Kalishnikov sub-machine gun in the company of Palestinian militants somewhere in the West Bank.
He was surprisingly gentle with me, praising the book where he felt he could, but tut-tutting what he saw as the jarring unrealism of my depiction of the sorts of militants with whom he had once posed.
I had written my Palestinian terrorists as characters from a Marx Brothers movie, if the lads had ever set one of their comedies in a Palestinian state.
They are a group of fanatical clowns, fearful of the even more fanatical members of rival Islamic sects, who have procured an old Soviet atomic artillery shell from a Chechen arms dealer and intend to launch it atop a rocket from next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Israeli Parliament Building in nearby West Jerusalem.
As part of his pleasantries with the Chechen arms dealer, the head terrorist gives him a tour of the Yassir Arafat Memorial Waste Treatment Facility built alongside the Western Wall. He then encourages him to relieve himself at the huge outdoor urinal that the militants have made of the ancient stones of Judaism’s holiest site.
What, Me Worry?
My former professor objected that no Palestinian he had ever met had any desire to urinate on the Western Wall and that building a waste treatment plant so close to the two Jerusalem mosques would never be accepted by the Palestinian people.
I wrote him back that the book was meant as satire along the lines of the 1950s Mad Magazine and that I had intended to point out in satirical fashion how the Palestinian impulse to humiliate their Jewish enemies often overpowered their other, seemingly more vital (to Western observers) self-interests.
We left things at that, agreeing to amicably disagree. Then came the events of October 7 and their aftermath.
My portrayal of the attempted immolation of an Israeli consul speaking at a U.S. university and the administrators trying to cover it up?
Outrageous, you say? Would never happen?
It doesn’t appear so now, not after we’ve all witnessed student marches at top American campuses such as Harvard and George Washington cheering for Hamas savagery. We’re seeing professors from prestigious institutions declaring their support for “resistance” and their university presidents putting out mealy-mouthed statements of moral equivalence between perpetrators and victims.
My character Rabbi Helvetica declaring Victimhood to be the world’s primary virtue and leading a rebellion against God when He establishes the End Times? How different is she, really, from Rabbi Alissa Wise, a council member of Jewish Voice for Peace, who helped lead an occupation of a Congressional office building on October 18, mere days after the worst one-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust?
Is Rabbi Helvetica that much of an exaggeration of a Rabbi Wise, who said to CNN regarding her fears for residents of Gaza, “I wake up every single morning with tears in my eyes, rage in my heart and I channel it into action?”
A rabbi who had not a word to say about the more than a thousand Israeli civilians slaughtered in their homes or at a music festival — a peace festival, yet! — by agents of the elected leadership of Gaza?
Leaders of a Palestinian state turning the Western Wall into a public urinal and waste treatment facility to humiliate and degrade the Jews?
Too far-fetched? Too unrealistic?
What seemed like far-out satire in 2012 now looks like prim prudery compared with the real-life butchery of children in front of their parents, beheading of infants and raping of girls and women until their bones were broken that invading Hamas terrorists carried out — and filmed and uploaded to social media with glee — on October 7.
It is becoming increasingly impossible to satirize the Hamas leadership with their dreams of killing every last Jew, their perverse Jewish enablers and the media who happily parrot every Palestinian talking point.
The literary imagination finds itself in a losing race with the real world’s escalating barbarity and the lengths to which supposedly educated people will go to justify it.
Andrew Fox is a homeland security analyst and a science fiction, horror, and fantasy writer best known for his novel Fat White Vampire Blues. He is currently working on a series of fantasies featuring King Ahab and the history of antisemitism.