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- "For the most part Little Israel is a pretty nice establishment. Safe, orderly, and full of merchants it's certainly a great place to sell some goods without getting robbed. However with restrictions on gambling, hookers, drugs, drinking and pretty much all the other fun stuff in the world it's not exactly a great place for a bachelor party."
- ―Anonymous rafter, 2267.
- "Boy, you sure are one klutz, mach shnel nudnik before I frosk your ponim!"
- ―Annoyed Cohen Guard, 2270
|Location:||Western Coast of Florida|
Little Israel, formerly the tropical and small city of Venice, Florida before the nuclear holocaust of 2077, is a small Jewish city-state and hub of trade on Florida's Southwest Coast.
Among the most civilized of any communities by the standards of post-war America, Little Israel is ruled by an electoral Council (somewhat reminiscent of Old World Aristocracy) and encompasses the former city of Venice, Florida and the surrounding four miles.
Perhaps the only calm society in its area, Little Israel has long been a source of trade and asylum for refugees. The city is the home of a robust political system where power and standing comes from the prominence of one's family, Little Israel has proven to be a formidable opponent in conflicts against pirates and raiders and remains as one of the few established communities not in anarchy in South Florida. However, a dark side still emerges out of peace of Little Israel, as the Families vie for control over the lucrative trade that flows to their shores.
Many years before the Great War, Venice was a society already in full swing. A thriving agricultural community, as well as well visited beach fronts from all economic walks-of-life, provided the city with a considerable amount of wealth in its early beginnings almost three and a half centuries ago. A small Jewish community existed in the area, mostly Northern vacationers enjoying the cool winds and calm waters of Western Florida's coasts. It remained a quiet town during the first half of the Twenty-first century, rarely breaking through it's annual visiting rate. This simplistic lifestyle would all change during the early 2050s.
In 2052, almost half way across the world, the European Commonwealth waged war with a loose coalition of Mid-Eastern nations. Stuck in the middle of it all was the State of Israel. Though it was a considerably aided by the United States, its closest ally and technological powerhouse, many Israeli citizens feared the ongoing conflict. Israel had earned the ire of its neighbors from its existence and a multitude of controversial incidents in its past, and was thus a prime target of any Mid-Eastern aggression. Israeli citizens immigrated by the thousands, heading to the still-stable United States. Further immigration result from the nuclear terrorist strike on Tel Aviv in December of 2053; with those who still had the wealth to leave flying of to safer shores.
In 2054, limited nuclear arms were dropped both in Europe and the Middle East as both sides sought to overcome the other. Both regions were in ruins when the bombs fell to the Earth, and the Fallout afterwards further strained people's lives. European Jews, descendants of Holocaust survivors who had survived the horrors, for the most part read the situation and decided immigrating to stabile lands was the best options. A major diaspora occurred between '54 and '55, with most Jews finding refuge in the United States.
It is from this debacle that most of the future Jewish inhabitants of Little Israel found their way to the "Land of Sunshine". American, European, and Israeli Jews migrated of all walks of life migrated to Florida to bask in the nearly eternal sun and relax under the beach parasols. Upper-Class Jews brought their new and old money, establishing beautiful mansions near secluded beaches, or heading to the city of Miami to strike big. Other classes of Jews chose to enjoy their new and permanent lives, setting up local businesses to earn an honest pay.
The locals of Venice had mixed feelings about this sudden exposure to Jewish people and their culture. Some welcomed the change, enjoying the bountiful riches that came from Jewish investment into the local economy. Many others feared the Jew's presence in their community; mashing together vibrant nationalism and anti-Semitism as a response to a fear of 'foreign' influence on their lives. Multiple cases of arson, physical assault, and even murder would be common among the early '60s through the '70s.
The Great War
While it is undisputed that Venice was in its prime when the bombs fell upon the Earth, its population of a little more than fifty-thousand when combined with its minimal strategic importance made Venice safe from full targeting by the Russian military. In the end, the Russians spent one nuclear warhead with a radioactive fallout zone of three miles on Venice which irradiated a third of the town and killed twenty thousand people instantly. The rest of the damage would be done by nuclear winter and massive waves, stirred up by the warheads force which damaged much of the coastline's infrastructure.
Within a matter of months starvation, dehydration, radiation, and violence would claim an additional seventeen thousand lives and by December of 2078, the three thousand or so people alive had mostly moved on, wanting to try their luck in the wasteland. These groups would form into tribes of a few hundred, one of which would go on to become the feared Trinity Clan. However, most of the small groups would mainly be eradicated through petty wars, radiation, or starvation
While most would leave, around four hundred would stay. These stragglers were mostly from the upper-middle class Jewish community who resided in their own sparsely populated area of the city and surviving middle class citizens whose religious beliefs were primarily Catholic.
The Jewish community, linked strongly by faith would form into a better organized group with the Cohen family leading the Jewish survivors while the O'Reilly family would become the largest non-Jewish family.
The two would make formal contact in 2085 when a forging party of O'Reilly affiliated scavengers would wander into the Jewish district. The Cohens would make their guests welcome and provide a meal for the scavengers who observed the Jewish District, which was doing significantly better at organization and supplies than the others.
It did not take long for the scavengers to return and tell of the small Jewish community to the struggling O'Reilly led faction. Capitalizing on their Jewish faith, the O'Reillys would stir up anti-semitimism among their following and convince their camp that the resources the Jews held would greatly improve their quality of life, this would prove to be the basis for the Cohen-O'Reilly feud.
On May 22nd, 2086 a group of eight militia members employed by the O'Reilly family opened fire on a former diner on the outskirts of the Jewish sector with high caliber hunting rifles and shotguns. Killing two men and injuring three others, they sustained one casualty before falling back, the feud had begun.
Shocked initially, the Cohens would rally the people of the Jewish sector to fight the O'Reilly led forces. It would take until September 24th for them to respond however with a string of small gunfights dubbed the Cohen Massacre, four groups of two to three Jews opened fire on O'Reilly sympathizers with handguns and killed eight men on the border of "No man's land", a middle zone of urban ruins that separated the Cohens and O'Reillys.
This set the precedent for the majority of the feud, small groups would navigate through to the other faction's border and attempt an ambush into their rival's territory. Rarely were there any gunfights whose participants were over a dozen and for the next fourteen years the two groups would continually chip away at each other in petty gunfights.
In 2100, the death toll was sixty-seven lives and around eighty injuries. The leader of the O'Reilly camp, Quint O'Reilly realized the feud was unsustainable. While annual casualties were slim, the birth rates would eventually put the majority of people under eighteen. In a bid to try to gain an upper hand, he sent his lieutenant, Owen Ginger to lead a party of sixteen men to try to secure the former harbor to see if any boats were still intact.
The group was dubbed the "Ginger Party" on behalf of their leader, who had a reputation as a big game hunter before the war. The group found the harbor and despite two days of meticulous searching, they could not procure a working boat.
Disappointed, the group prepared to leave the harbor. However as they were about to leave, a gunshot was heard by Ginger who believing it to be the Cohens took cover. After ten minutes, the Ginger Party came to the realization that it was a signal shot from a boat they saw a quarter of a mile off shore.
Firing a shot in return, the Ginger Party would grow excited when the boat turned out to be one of the first Rafter Vessels carrying a load of weaponry.
Bartering for several scavenged military rifles with spare miscellaneous objects they had on hand such as gold and silver American dollar coins and some flasks of whiskey, Owen Ginger would send back four of his men to inform Quint of this new discovery. Ecstatic, Quint reallocated many of his men to the docks, a move that the Cohens would not grasp for the better part of a year. However by late 2101 the harbor and the influx of merchant vessels it was getting came to the Cohen's attention.
Within a week they would formulate a plan to gain this precious harbor by attacking with the bulk of their forces in a shock and awe blitzkrieg. December 4th would mark this strike as forty-seven Cohens moved on the harbor early in the morning. After seven hours of fighting with thirty-six O'Reilly occupants, what would be the feud's bloodiest battle was over.
Of the eighty-three combatants who fought in the initial fight for the harbor, forty-two were dead. The Cohens came out on top with eighteen casualties while the surviving O'Reillys retreated. With the Cohens in charge of the harbor they would begin to meet up with more merchant contacts and draw more attention to the feud over the former city of Venice.
The Cohens started to adopt the new bottle cap currency of the Gulf and formed ties with arm merchants and mercenaries when they could. The entire feud shifted over control of the harbor for the next nine years as even more were killed in the carnage with the addition of mercenaries and military grade firearms to the mix.
The people of Venice yearned for peace which would unexpectedly arrive in 2111 through the Hapsburg family who would bring about civilization and peace to the war torn city. Jews themselves, the Hapsburgs were growing merchants who saw the feuding city as a place to carve out a dynasty.
Moving to the harbor in early 2111, the Hapsburgs set up the first permanent merchant outpost and started to try to supply each side with more firepower for cheap, hoping it would thin out the ranks of the warring groups and force them to come to the bartering table.
When this failed, the Hapsburgs were losing money and still failing in bringing the sides to a unified peace. In a desperate bid to end the feud before going bankrupt, they hired mercenaries to equally attack each side. This plan of applying force would work and after taking losses, the two came to a table of negotiations which the Hapsburgs presided over with the goal to unify and drive out the growing mercenary threat.
After two weeks of negotiation, it was agreed that the two families would unify to drive out the mercenaries whose positions were given by the Hapsburgs to the O'Reilly family who led the Cohens in the assault to drive them out. After nine mercenaries were killed by the families, the Hapsburgs terminated the contract, putting the mercenaries on the retreat and fooling the coalition into believing they had won.
Armistice of 2111
Little Israel is ruled under a unique political system of a theocratic-capitalist electoral. Power is only available to a member of the seven families who have all gained their position through their collective contribution to Little Israel.
The chief government body for Little Israel is the Sanhedrin (Hebrew for "Council"), a collection of the most powerful families in the city. It is they who formulate and enforce Little Israel's code of laws.
All alcohol, prostitution, chems, and gambling are formally banned for both visitors and citizens in Little Israel and violating these laws is punishable by death.
For citizens the code is stricter, all who do not follow the Jewish doctrine to a devout position as required for citizenship are liable for being arrested and hung for heresy. Any who engage in pre-marital sexual relations, something most common among the wasteland are liable to serve twelve years in jail or if they are male, serve seven years in the military if they so choose.
The 'Noble' Families
Little Israel is controlled by seven families. It is in these families that political decisions are made, Judges are elected, and the city-state is run. Each family has gained entry into the Sanhedrin's ranks through wealth and serious contribution to Little Israel's economy, defense, or upkeep and continues to maintain such aid to keep their prestigious title.