July 21: We were just over the moon

It was not as dramatic as Charles Krauthammer hoped for, but I did experience the moon landing - twice.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
We were just... Sir, - It was not as dramatic as Charles Krauthammer hoped for, but I did experience the moon landing - twice ("The moon we forgot," July 20). For the actual event, my wife and I were living in New York. As the arrival time on the moon neared, it seemed as if almost every childhood illness was descending on our two children, aged three and two, and we forgot all about it. Then on July 19, 40 years ago, we received a phone message from the Conservative Synagogue: "Watch TV tomorrow night as God blesses our astronauts." And we did. In 2000, we took our daughter and her three kids from the Golan Heights to the US. We flew south to Orlando, Disney being the main goal. Our daughter said, "Why not visit Cape Kennedy? It's so close." We were amazed at the sight of those launch pads, huge rockets and other space vehicles. Sitting in an enormous hangar, we watched, very closely, a rerun of the moon landing. With the actual voices from Houston and the space capsule - a board of flashing lights capturing the Eagle's exact descent, moment by moment - the six of us felt the thrill of a great technological step forward. Together, we recited the Sheheheyanu prayer. DAVID GEFFEN Jerusalem ...over the moon Sir, - "And that's the way it was..." (Editorial, July 20) said that "Israelis could not view the live telecast of the first landing... our technology was not that advanced." However, some of us did see the landing later on newsreels, on TV. At that time I lived in north Tel Aviv, and my delightful neighbors, the Rosenfelds, had a television set. They invited me over in the evening to watch the show and we sat there absolutely enthralled, drinking tea and munching biscuits as we breathlessly watched mankind's historic, magical "first step" on the moon. TRUDY GEFEN Kiryat Ono Swiss cheek Sir, - Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey offered a justification for the June meeting between officials of her ministry and a Hamas delegation in Geneva. I could have understood (though disagreed with) an explanation that despite Hamas's actions, it is essential that Hamas be brought on board if a real peace agreement is to be reached. That was not what Calmy-Rey said. In a statement breathtaking for its intellectual dishonesty, she explained that her country does not have a list of terrorist organizations, believing that while a person can be called a terrorist, an organization cannot. Where does Calmy-Rey think all those terrorists get their training, equipment and support from? Who does she think is setting the policy, doing the planning and sending out the people who blow up bombs and kill innocent people? Hamas's headquarters are not just an empty office with a name on the door. I assume she would contend that while the Allies were justified in fighting against individual German soldiers, it would have been appropriate to continue normal relations with Hitler's government because there was no such thing as an aggressive, totalitarian Nazi state. Wait a minute... Isn't that exactly what Switzerland did for much of WWII? Now we know why ("For Switzerland, there are no terror organizations," July 17). EFRAIM COHEN Netanya Holocaust 'perspective' Sir, - I found Marilyn Henry's "They killed Gypsies, too" (July 13) unnerving. The premise that one must not overlook other groups singled out by the Nazis for the Final Solution might seem innocent enough, but it isn't. While we certainly should not deny that other groups were targeted for extermination, we must keep in mind that the camps were built with one, and only one group of people in mind. Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, communists, Russian POWs and several other identifiable groups were indeed victims, but the camps were operated primarily for the purpose of killing one, and only one ethnically defined group: the Jews. By putting things in "perspective," one can lose perspective. Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims. Might Holocaust "perspectives" lead to Holocaust denial? STUART KATSOFF Tel Aviv Museum of Arab terror Sir, - Re Michael Freund's suggestion that we "Build a museum of Arab terror" (July 16): We do in fact already have such a place. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is located near Gelilot, north of Tel Aviv, and is open to the public as well as maintaining an excellent Web site and information service in English and Hebrew: (www.terrorism-info.org.il). CANDY SHINAAR Bat Hen Let's put the boot on the other foot Sir, - I doubt the veracity of the rumor that prisoners guilty of terrorist offenses now incarcerated in Israeli prisons are encouraged to place their boots outside their cells at night for cleaning, and that they have a choice of delivery of a preferred newspaper before breakfast. However, the recent report on their multichannel TV, use of cell phone and facilities for studying for a degree does suggest that our prison conditions are just a little too comfy. Why can the authorities not withhold Red Cross visitation until that organization issues a report on the condition of Gilad Schalit, held hostage by Hamas for over three years? ("Limit visits to Hamas inmates," Editorial, July 8.) HAROLD LEWIN Jerusalem The ins and outs Sir, - If only everyone would spend as much energy on getting Jonathan Pollard out as they did on getting Bernie Madoff in ("US philanthropist steps up for Madoff victims," July 17). MICHELLE AARON Hashmonaim Sowing strife Sir, - We are in the period known as "the Three Weeks," culminating in the Fast of Tisha Be'av, when we mourn the destruction of the Temple and the beginning of our long exile, and Peace Now has decided that this is the time to start a new "anti-settlement campaign" to fuel more division and animosity amongst us ("Peace Now embarks on new campaign claiming settlements are obstacle to peace," July 15). Our sages tell us two reasons why we observe Tisha Be'av: because it marks the night when the 10 biblical spies told our people not to fight for this land; and because of sinat hinam - causeless hatred - i.e., the unnecessary strife and division sown among our people in the Second Temple period. It seems we have yet to integrate the harsh lessons of our 2,000-year exile. MENACHEM DAYAGI Tel Aviv Hebrew & Arabic religious satire Sir, - We were pleased to see an announcement in Capital Calendar about our panel discussion "The Boundaries of Religious Satire in a Democracy: Freedom of Expression or Freedom of Incitement?" this Thursday, July 23, at the Cinematheque, 7 p.m. Unfortunately, there was an error: The discussion will take place in Hebrew and Arabic, with simultaneous translation between the two languages, and not in English. Hebrew- and Arabic-speaking readers are invited to register at info@mosaica.org.il or 050-9317575. GITA HAZANI, Director Mosaica Center for Inter-Religious Cooperation Jerusalem