Letters to the Editor

Laser anti-rocket defense

In response to “Slings, arrows and domes, “November 23

At no point in Anshel Pfeffer’s entire article did he refer to another antimissile system that was successfully tested but never given a chance ? for reasons only known to the Defense Ministry.

The Nautilus, a tactical high-energy laser system, focuses a high-energy laser beam on airborne threats such as rockets, missiles, mortars and artillery shells.

The laser does not have the drawback of a range limitation because it travels at the speed of light, hence the laser can hit incoming missiles as little as 100 meters away, up to an unlimited range. For long-range threats an airborne laser ‏(based on the Skyguard system‏) is needed.

Hence it can defend against mortars, Qassams and Katyushas ? all the way up to the long-range Shihab missile. It takes the laser one to two seconds to lock on to an attacking missile and an additional one to three seconds to shoot it down.

While the laser’s initial cost of installation is higher by a factor of close to two, one shot from a laser costs on average $2,000, while Iron Dome missiles cost around $50,000 each. The defense establishment has estimated that in the next war with Hezbollah, Israel could face 1,000 rockets per day.

A few years ago 46 experiments were carried out with the Nautilus intercepting Katyushas, artillery shells and mortars, in single shots and in salvos. It had a 100-percent success rate.

In 2006 a delegation from Northrop Grumman visited Israel to try to persuade the government that the laser solution was preferable. The head of the delegation made an offer to place a laser, at Northrop’s expense, in Sderot for a month or two and discuss it later, but the offer was rejected without an explanation.

Whatever happened behind closed doors at the Defense Ministry one will never know, but it is not too late to have a new look at this project that could save the country a considerable amount of money and afford it better all-around protection in the next round of fighting against Hamas or Hezbollah, or both.

Joe Charlaff


Jacob and Esau today

Dear Israelis, I’m a secular Jew who lives in America, in Philadelphia. I am not bombed or threatened on a daily basis. I stay in touch with my Judaism on a weekly basis by studying Torah.

We read our stories in English ‏(and Hebrew‏); they are ingrained in me and I believe in you as well.

Genesis/Bereshit is a family story ? complicated, confusing, loving and painful yet filled with hope, desires and promises for the future. The last few weeks have been Jacob’s story. Jacob has all the good and bad qualities of a human being. I know you all know this story, but think about it again.

Jacob finally goes home. Because of that he is forced to meet up with his past, namely his brother Esau.

One lesson in this story for me is that they make up, at least enough to allow each other to go his own way.

Dear beloved Israelis, in this Torah time, find a way to legally negotiate a peace with the West Bank Palestinians that allows each of you/us to go his own way safely, respectfully and in dignity.

If our Torah is worth holding onto ? be Jacob who becomes Israel. I say this with deep love and admiration.

Pecki Sherman Witonsky

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Israel’s connivance

In response to “A harsh indictment,” November 27

The op-ed by attorney Yehudit Karp, a former deputy attorney, does a public service by quoting the usually unquoted part of the Levy report ? namely, the part that records the connivance or active participation of the government and army in illegal acts of land appropriation and settlement in the occupied territories. Haaretz helps create informed public opinion by publishing this shocking recital of facts.

Ruth Rigbi

Israel Association of University Women