[Author's note: This is a work of fiction. The author has no intention of
committing any violent acts whatsoever, let alone one of the magnitude the
protagonist plans. Once Americans weren't afraid to engage in thought
Those Whom It Concerns:
First, my apologies for not being there myself to make this statement to
you. I believe that if you're going to do something that harms someone, you
should face them and explain why you did it, but the plan was paramount. It
had to succeed. Leaving large nuclear devices alone in a large city until I
could achieve minimum safe distance was too risky, never mind the range of
the detonator. So this account will have to do.
By now the whole world knows what I have done. I am deeply sorry for the
many lives that will be lost; this, too, was unavoidable. I could hardly
call a press conference and request that Jerusalem be evacuated; that would
have stopped the plan dead in its tracks. That was my only reason for not
doing so, however. I am not a terrorist. My act was intended not to
produce terror, but to end it.
The very beginning goes back about twenty years, to my college days. In a
class discussion, one participant said that Jerusalem should be evacuated
and then annihilated with nuclear weapons, so that it would be
uninhabitable. "It's like when you were kids," he explained. "If you and
your brother were fighting over a toy, your mother would take it away and
say, 'Fine, if you can't share it, neither one of you can have it!'" He
pointed out that millions had died over possession of the city for
millennia; it was time to put a stop to it. Making Jerusalem an independent
city would have been a better idea, but it was part of the original plan for
the creation of Israel and Ben Gurion buried it.  That
was clearly not going to happen.
I did not endorse my classmate's position. I thought that negotiation was
always possible, and therefore it was far from necessary to destroy a city
of such historical importance, let alone its religious value to so many. It
was, however, the seed that suggested the solution for a related problem:
Christian rapture theology.
I moved to Texas shortly after my graduation from college; I loved the hot,
dry weather and loathed the fire ants but ended up leaving because of the
screaming nightmares I had about the plans of Christian Reconstructionists,
nightmares that continued for several months after I moved back to the
Northeast. Having grown up in a Midwestern Christian community, I knew, of
course, about the story of the rapture, how the Christian god is supposed to
raise his faithful directly out of their clothing into their paradise. What
I didn't realize is that many Christians do not feel this should be left to
their deity to accomplish in his own good time, but that they must bring it
about by making the prophecies in their sacred text come true.
Their plan has several steps:
The establishment of the state of Israel.
The return of Israel to its biblical
borders. This requires, by the way, that there be no Palestinian state
and that there be continual war in the Middle East. 
The rebuilding of the Third Temple, the site
of which is currently occupied by Muslim places of worship.
Then the Battle of Armageddon will occur, and
as the author of one recent article put it, "the sky will be filled with
floating nudists."  I would have been annoyed by his
flippant attitude if he had not insisted that these people are not to be
dismissed as mere lunatics. They are politically well connected and
Nonetheless, when I first learned about them, they were still on the fringes
of political life. They might hold power in localities in many parts of the
United States, but the federal government, the only entity in the country
capable of waging war in the Middle East, did not belong to them.
Certainly, they had their representatives there, but their voices were
drowned in a sea of more sane ones. I expected the system would prevent
their madness from becoming policy. After all, the Supreme Court
specifically stated that tolerance is not granted to acts of religious
homicide or suicide,  and the insistence on endless
warfare, their belief that peace efforts in the Middle East are evil,
 amounts to nothing less than the endorsement of human
My faith in the system to contain the danger turned out to be unjustified.
Even during the election of 2000, once I became aware of the belief system
of George W. Bush, I began to try to draw my fellow citizens' attention to
the danger. Mr. Bush and his coreligionists would not rest until rapture
preparations--disguised, of course, as "national security" and "foreign
policy"--became standard procedure. They would fan the flames to make the
Arabs and Israelis assist them in this gruesome task. I wrote the major
newspapers; I didn't expect the Washington Post to print my letters,
but even Newsday dismissed me as a crazy and intolerant conspiracy
theorist. I tried posting on liberal websites; even there I was usually
considered an extremist. At best, I was preaching to the choir. The
election of 2000 was so close that Mr. Bush, with the complicity of a
Supreme Court unworthy of its predecessors, was able to accomplish a coup.
The instant he did, I knew what was to come. Time has proven their power in
the Bush administration,  although I knew better than to
wait for time to do so. On 13 December 2000, I began laying the groundwork
for my plan.
Unlike the Supreme Court, I am a true pluralist: if the rapture theologists
wished to slay only willing adult members of the group, I would have no
problem with them. They do not care, however, who is killed or what
destruction is done in their pursuit of their religious mission. Anyone who
does not share their faith they believe will suffer eternal torment, so what
does it matter if that torment begins twenty or fifty years sooner than it
otherwise would have? Our own armed forces are not predominantly Christian
rapture theologists, but the Reconstructionists are willing to sacrifice
them and uncounted residents of the Middle East. The Muslim account of the
end of the world is very similar (although of course favoring Muslims) and
there may well be Muslim rapture theologists, but even if one assumes the
highly unlikely notion that most of the individuals sacrificed agree with
some version of the beliefs that doom them, many are children, who cannot
give informed consent to such a proceeding. The Christian
Reconstructionists have therefore crossed all lines of tolerance.
First came the calculations. I could not assume my plan was for the greater
good; I had to verify it to the best of my ability. I had to consider the
size of the site, its location in the city, the population distribution
around it, the prevailing winds at various times of year. I originally used
the Vietnam War casualty rates as my base, but when the Iraq rates became
available, I examined those. Although the estimates for casualties in an
American city would possibly be high enough to make my plan unconscionable
there,  Jerusalem's population density is very small by
American standards: even assuming that the density is a hundred times
greater in the most populous areas than in the city over all, its density is
about a thousandth of a percentage point of a relatively low-density
American city.  Casualties should therefore be at least
a thousand times fewer. Assuming that, as my best information said,
casualties would be in the thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands
in an American city, then even nine thousand deaths, ten times less than a
worst case for Americans, would be worse than the worst harm I would
possibly do. Comparing that to no fewer than 8,235 civilians and 575
Coalition deaths in the first year of the Iraq invasion and occupation,
 I could not help but reach the conclusion that I had
to proceed. The Holy War might, after all, go on for decades or centuries.
The Christian Reconstructionists would keep it up until their god showed up
or either they or we were all dead.
So it was on to the execution of the plan. It's hard to get weapons-grade
plutonium, but not impossible. It helps that, being a white American female
scientist, I did not seem like a likely suspect, and it helps that my
government has been conducting a decidedly irresponsible foreign policy for
at least a century, giving me a wealth of individuals willing to offer
assistance. I will not give the details here; there can be few causes that
permit such means, so I will make it no easier for anyone to duplicate my
efforts. Obviously, however, I succeeded. I made the bombs that will stop
the rapture Christians.
Israel is already a state. Its government, even if it could be persuaded to
return to its 1967 borders, could always alter that policy at will. There
was only one weak link, one point at which one person could, if not entirely
stop the rapture plans, certainly put them on hold a good long while.
Today I will drive a van with two plutonium-based nuclear devices into
Jerusalem, to the Temple Mount. I will detonate those devices. A large
portion of the Temple Mount will be blown away, and the site of the Third
Temple--or rather the spot on the new surface that corresponds to it--will
become so hot that anyone attempting to build there won't survive the first
day of the project for some time to come.
How long to come is the big question. Even nuclear scientists cannot agree
on how long Chernobyl will be unsafe, so I could not come to any certain
estimate. You may be safe from the rapture theologists forever, but you may
only have twenty years until they can start moving on that plank again. I
will have, unfortunately, cleared the site for them, so you can't delay any
Do not let me have made myself a murderer in vain. Get these people out of
power. Recognize their fragment of Christianity for what it is, a political
party that advocates violence, and do not allow them to go on pretending it
is Constitutionally protected. It will not be easy: they own the voting
machines and the ballot scanners.  I am not
encouraging you to take action as drastic as mine, but you will certainly
have to go far beyond your usual routine. It is that, however, or let
millions die in sacrifice to a cruel god.
Claritas Moralis is a pseudonym for a
writer based in Ithaca, New York.
 David Ben Gurion, "Prime Minister's Statement concerning Jerusalem and
the Holy Places," 5 December 1949, available at
 George Monbiot, "Their
Beliefs Are Bonkers, but They Are at the Heart of Power," Guardian,
20 April 2004.
 Rick Perlstein, "The
Jesus Landing Pad," Village Voice, 18 May 2004; Joe Bageant, "The
Covert Kingdom: Thy Will Be Done, on Earth, As It Is in Texas,"
Dissident Voice, May 18, 2004.
 Monbiot, "Their Beliefs."
Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878), opinion.
 Bageant, "The Covert Kingdom."
 Perlstein, "Jesus Landing Pad"; Mark Morford, "Apocalypse
Bush!" SF Gate, 8 September 2004, available at.
 Alan F. Phillips, "The
Effect on the Inhabitants of a City of the Explosion of a Nuclear Bomb."
 Per the
population data on Jerusalem's official website, the city has a density
of about 22 people per acre or 0.034 per square mile. Houston, per the
US Bureau of the Census, has a density of 3,499.1 per square mile in its
densest section. Even making the assumption that the most populous parts of
Jerusalem have one hundred times the average density, the populous areas
would have 0.00098% of the density of Houston. For comparison, Miami's
population density is 10,160.9 per square mile, Chicago's is 12,880.5, and
New York City's is in the mid 30,000 range, depending upon the part of the
city in question.
 John Sloboda and Hamit Dardagan, "Civilian
Deaths in 'Noble' Iraq Mission Pass 10,000"; Iraq Coalition Casualty
 Lynn Landes, "Two
Voting Companies and Two Brothers Will Count 80 Percent of U.S. Election
Using Both Scanners & Touchscreens," Dissident Voice.