Wednesday, October 21, 2009 v3.2

Home Sweet Home, Part 2
©2009 David Talbot

Last week I finished Part 1 with the following: Can somebody explain why 20% of Israel’s citizens (Arabs) can live in peace in Israel, and less than 10% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem citizens can’t do the same under Palestinian rule?

Part 2
In a recent Wall Street Journal Opinion piece[1], R. James Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence under President Clinton, posed this very question to Salam Fayyad, acting Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. His answer was surprising and provides the framework for a complete change in focus of the Arab-Israeli conflict over Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

For the first time in the history of the conflict, an acting Palestinian Prime Minister indicated , "I'm not someone who will say that they would or should be treated differently than Israeli Arabs are treated in Israel….[2]” This idea of Jews and Arabs living together only exists today in Israel and a few countries where a very small population of Jews live in tenuous peace with their neighbors.

The shift, if it matures into law in the West Bank, would establish a new paradigm in the “settlement” negotiations. Under a Palestinian State, the West Bank would transfer from Israeli to Palestinian authority. And, Jewish Settlements would now make up about 10% of the total population in Palestine.

The fighting between Israel and the P.A. about settlements would disappear. U.S. pressure on Israel would cease, and the only question would be the security of both Palestinians and Jews living together, just as they do now in Israel.

This solution would take a lot of soul searching on both sides. Israel would give up disputed territory, but not dismantle settlements. Palestinians would amend sections of their charter providing civil rights to all citizens, including property rights, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

This solution could also ease tensions with other neighbors in the region, namely Jordan and Egypt. These are countries have benefited from a political relationship with Israel, but face internal pressures from communities and religious groups to support the Palestinians.

My opinion… could work. But given the atmosphere all over the Middle East, it would take a miracle. But, it is the Holy Land……

[1] Opinion, Wall Street Journal Online, October 11, 2009
[2] Ibid

Friday, October 16, 2009 v3.1

Home Sweet Home (Part 1)
© 2009 David Talbot

Here’s something to think about: Jews hate Muslims and Muslims hate Jews, and therefore they live together in peace in the Bellevelle neighborhood, northwest of Paris, France.

Say whaaaat? They live in peace? Together? In Paris?

Actually, the Belleville section of Paris has been home to North African Muslims, Jews, and Berbers for around 50 years, more or less. In a recent article in JTA, Ilan Moss describes the neighbors of this community as, “…being fiercely proud of the climate of tolerance in their neighborhood¹” And, they complain that the press is only interested in the sensationalism of anti-Semitism.

How do they do it? Real simple, they all came from similar cultures in Tunisia, where they lived, worked, and raised families, in peace for centuries. But more than similar cultures, in North Africa and in France; these families were then, and are now, fully integrated in the community. They work together, play together, and break bread together: no separate schools, no separate governing bodies, and no separate social activities.

And in Israel, all citizens have equal rights, including the right to pray as they choose: Jews, Muslims, and Christians. But are all citizens fully integrated in mainstream Israeli society. Well, no. It is true there are isolated communities where Jews and Muslims live together in peace. But it is the exception, not the rule. Most communities in Israel are segregated with Arabs and Jews living close to each other, but not together.

However, there is hope things are changing. “In 1997, Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education is Israel was founded to build peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel through development of bilingual and multi-cultural schools2.” Since 1997 schools have been built in Jerusalem, Galilee, Wadi Ara, and Beersheva. For a complete report and update of how this organization is building communities check out their web site at:

There is a second part to this story. The West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Israeli’s have built settlements following the 1967 war, is the focal point of The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and the Obama Administration. They want no Jewish settlements, indeed, they want no Jews at all in these territories.

Can somebody explain why 20% of Israel’s citizens (Arabs) can live in peace in Israel, and less than 10% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem citizens can’t do the same under Palestinian rule? See Part 2, next week.

¹ JTA, September 22, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009 v2.0

©2009 David Talbot

I was having a chat with my sister-in-law, 6 months ago, about the holiday season. For us it was about Chanukah, the festival of lights. We spoke of the traditional holiday dishes like latkes (potato pancakes) and lighting the Chanukah Menorah, the traditional candelabra that Jews use to remember the miracle that occurred about 2,200 years ago. Susan told me that lighting the Chanukah Menorah, was what she missed most.

In December 2000, my brother was stricken with a terrible ailment that left him totally disabled and dependant on various medications. Because of his disability, the family cannot have an open flame in his room, so it’s Chanukah without the Menorah. If you are a Christian, think of Christmas trees with out any ornaments or lights. It just wouldn’t be the same. Thus Susan’s lament.

My solution: in addition to our collection of traditional menorahs, we have an Electric Menorah. It isn’t really a substitute for candles, but at least you will have a representation of the traditional menorah--we’ll send you ours. From this conversation a project was born, the Electric Menorah Project.

The goal of the Project is to give, free of any charge, an Electric Menorah to Jews in Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Hospice facilities, or Disabled at home, where an open flame is not possible. Silvia and I took care of all expenses (not that many.) We asked our Rabbi to supervise us.

We composed an email list of about 500 old Army and National Guard buddies, relatives, friends, and friends of friends, and asked for their help. To date, we have received sufficient donated funds to provide about 20 Menorahs this Chanukah, to Arizona families. In addition, two electric Menorahs were sent to us for placement.

Here’s what I learned from the past six months. We learned that our friends were more generous that we had imagined---shame on us. We learned that very few folks resented the monthly solicitations and updates--only 2 people asked us to stop the contact. And, we learned that Christians do support “Jewish” causes as 90% of the donations came from our non-Jewish friends.

On our BLOG we encourage others to copy our project in their home towns. Two of our friends have inquired about starting projects, one in Florida, and one in Washington.

If you’d like more information about the Electric Menorah Project, you can find us at: or email the project at:

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Talbot Plan for National Healthcare

Ya know folks, we already have mandated Health Insurance for all employers with common law employees. All employees are covered and the policy covers Health Insurance, Disability Income Insurance, and Life Insurance. And in most states there is a Government Option which competes with private insurers. Owner-employees can participate if they wish. What is this plan called? Workers Compensation. It is not federally mandated, is slightly different from state to state, and rates are based on the nature of the business risk and experience of the group. And, for the most part, employers are not liable for most work related accidents, injuries, or deaths.

Here's my suggestion for health care: Superimpose non-occupational Health, disability and Life insurance on existing Work Comp. Mandate each state to develop, with its State Department of Industrial Compensation, a formula to integrate all non-working, legal residents, within their jurisdictions, for Health, Life, and Disability Insurance. Then, invite bids from the carriers doing business in each state, with the Federal Government providing catastrophic stop-loss coverage at some predetermined level (Like $250,000). State Compensation Funds will compete with Private Insurance companies---as they do now. Employees would pay the premium for the superimposed coverage, and non-employed legal residents would pay the premium stated by the company, or the State Fund, which ever they choose, for 24 hour coverage. Insurance Companies, which are supervised by the states, are free, within reason, to set rates and still earn a profit. Individuals are free to select the Doc/Hospital of their choice. Treatment options would be determined by the insurance company, but an insured is free to shop companies. As in W/C, all are covered on day 1 and pre-existing ailments must be covered. Tort Liability would be the same as industrial compensation, as regulated by the state.

I know this may sound convoluted, but I think its workable, would provide for regional differences in risks, occupational hazards, and income levels.