Friday, October 22, 2010

Political Leadership, Obama VS. Piñera

Received by email--Author Unknown. If after reading this piece you can ID the author, please advise me by posting a comment.


Watching the rescue of the 33 miners in Chile one could not help but make a comparison between the President of Chile and the President of the United States.

1. The President of Chile spent over 24 hours awake, standing in the freezing cold at night and in the extreme heat of day, waiting and cheering on the work being done by common, everyday workers to bring the miners to the surface. Never once did I hear him use the word "I", or "I've", or "Me". I heard the words "us", "we", and "Chileans" as he was speaking and his conversation was being translated on the T-V broadcast.

2. I witnessed the President of Chile who did not require two teleprompters to deliver a message, the message from the President of Chile was from the heart, tears in his eyes, emotion in his voice that was real, coupled with concern for his countrymen rather than political posturing that we witness day in and day out from our President as he reads from the twin teleprompters while dealing with a crisis.

3. I witnessed the thanks the President of Chile gave to the national leaders and all who helped and who called in support of the effort being made to bring the miners to the surface---included if you noted were the countries of Israel, England and others in Europe, and from the Americas--Canada, and all the countries of South America---only one was missing, there was no mention of a call from the President of the United States. Did our President fail to call and show concern or did our only support come from NASA and the private sector?

4. Standing side by side for hours in the cold and heat was the wife of the President of Chile--she was not in Martha's vineyard with an entourage or Europe or New York shopping as ours was during the disaster in the gulf.

5. The President of Chile was willing to spend his political capital to invite help from throughout the world to save 33 men trapped one half mile below the ground. A comparison--our president would not over-rule the Jones Act and receive foreign ships that were offered in an effort to clean and correct a disaster, the oil spill. The ship building union might be offended while thousands of citizens are unemployed in the gulf. Similar effort is lacking in the pursuit of the trial of those involved in the bombing of the Cole on the part of our President.

I saw a real leader in the President of Chile. A President that might not speak as precisely as one with a teleprompter, but with feeling for the people of that nation facing a huge problem. He spoke with emotion and commitment that was real. He put himself last and the needs of his nation and citizens first.

That man is a leader, one ours could take a lesson from.

Sunday, October 17, 2010 v 21.0

Israel’s Loyalty Crisis
©2010 By David Talbot

On October 10, 2010, the Israeli Cabinet, under the direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, met to discuss a proposal to require non-Jewish Israeli immigrants to take a loyalty oath to the Jewish State, as part of the immigration process. The proposal passed 22-9 and now goes to the full Knesset (Israeli Parliament) for consideration.

As one might expect, liberal groups around the world broke out in righteous indignation at the thought of requiring a loyalty oath as part of becoming a new citizen of a country, any country.

But wait a minute, my wife became a citizen of the United States in 1965 after fleeing Cuba, along with her mom and sister. I was at the ceremony where she became an American. I distinctly recall her and 60 or 70 others being told to raise their right hand and swear to support and defend…..etc.

After administering the Oath, each and every person there was required, one at a time, to state: “I do swear.” Some of the individuals taking the oath were so emotional they stated those words through tears of joy. And all of us in attendance cheered each one.

When I enlisted in the Army, I swore allegiance to the United States of America. When I was promoted to Warrant Officer, and then Commissioned Officer, I swore allegiance again, and again.

Why would liberal groups be so upset with what should be a “no-brainer”?

Here’s the answer: It’s only non-Jewish immigrants who will be required to take the oath, if it becomes law. And, being the conservative Orthodox Jew that I am, I hate to say it, but I’m on the liberal’s side of this issue.

If there are terrorists in the immigrant group, trying to get into Israel, you think a simple oath will be any deterrent to their nefarious plans? I don’t either. So why go through this exercise? It’s pure politics! Netanyahu’s coalition needs to be assured that he will be tough with Arabs, the United States, and the UN.

There is an simple solution to this problem. The Israelis should amend the legislation and require every immigrant, regardless of former nationality, to take the Loyalty Oath. The Loyalty Oath legislation as it’s currently drafted, is not in the best interests of all Israelis.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?


David Talbot

Contact David at:

Tuesday, October 05, 2010 v.20.0

More on the “Peace Talks”
©2010 by David Talbot

This is my response to an article published in Ynet News on October 4, 2010. You can find a link to the English language version of the article on David Talbot’s Blog:

I don't know enough about the players, and the politics, in Israel. What Ido believe, however, is that a peace accord with Palestinians can never be achieved until some agency or government assumes, either by free elections or some other mechanism approved by all the parties, control of all Palestinians,and has the authority to impose civil order over the territory granted to this agency or government.

The degree to which Obama, and his agents,does not understand the Arabs is astounding. Peace is not the end game for them,it is simply a part of the process of total destruction of all Jews and the State of Israel.

Statements, many coming from individuals claiming leadership of the Palestinian people,are spoken with one meaning in English and a totally diametrically opposed meaning in Arabic,on the same day,and from the same people.

Obama seizes on the inane ramblings of terrorist governments when it seems they support his agenda, but he is totally unaware of the Arabic translation or, more accurately, the Arabic version, which is 180 degrees out of sync with the English version broadcast worldwide.

In some cases, these quasi leaders like Abbas flip opinions faster than a weather vane in a tornado, even to their own people. Leaving them totally baffled as to what their leaders think.

I believe the Foreign Minister is correct in his assumptions. So,no more freeze on settlements, no carving up Jerusalem, and if we have to go it alone, we will!

Anyway, that’s my opinion, what’s yours?


David Talbot

Contact David Talbot at:

Lieberman: Obama trying to force agreement on Israel - Israel News, Ynetnews

Lieberman: Obama trying to force agreement on Israel - Israel News, Ynetnews

Sunday, September 12, 2010 v 19.0

Debate on the Mosque At Ground Zero
©2010 By David Talbot

(This opinion is a rebuttal to a recent article by Newt Gingrich, on his website,, July 21, 2010)

I respectfully disagree with Newt Gingrich's thesis on the subject of the mosque at Ground Zero. I do agree the mosque should be built in another location. But that's on moral, not legal grounds. And I totally disagree with his demand that until churches and synagogues are allowed to be built in Saudi Arabia, or any other country before we allow a mosque, any mosque, to be built in this country. That kind of logic will get us in trouble here in America with unintended consequences.

It is not our business to demand how other countries conduct their internal affairs. In my opinion, it is totally inappropriate to tie a religious denomination of any kind that operates within the United States, to a specific action of a religious group within another sovereign nation, operating within the scope of that nations legal structure. It is precisely this kind of arrogance and ethnocentrism, that got us where we are today. It's reminiscent of the spoiled brat with a ball demanding the team play by his rules or he's taking his ball and going home. That doesn't work with kids and it won't work with sovereign nations around the globe.

Mr. Gingrich is attempting to inflame Americans to behave exactly like those he despises. His comments about the "double standard" that allows Muslims to demand our submission and weakness, is a vailed assault on two of our most precious freedoms: Freedoms of Speech and Freedom of association. Once we slide down that slope of identifying and then isolating a specific religious organization, who's next?

When you demand to know the funding of a specific project to determine the source of the funding, you imply the information will initiate some legal course of action. Who will decide the parameters of the action and the outcome of the legal proceedings? Who determines the standards of appropriate funding sources? When has any religious organization become the target of such draconian measures in the history of this country?

It is unconstitutional for congress to pass a law that targets a specific person or group of people. If this mosque is required to divulge it's source of funds, so the donors can be identified and investigated, isn't any donor to any religious project in America, or around the world, just one tiny little step away from being investigated as well?

This is all election year politics tapping into certain American’s fear and hatred to achieve a political agenda. The consequences of following ideologues, such as Newt appears to be, could result in the United States becoming the exact duplicate of those countries he's trying to repudiate.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?


David Talbot

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Peace Talks
©2010 By David Talbot

September 2, 2010. Another day of Peace talks, another attack on Israeli civilians -- this time along route 60, a road that the Israeli Supreme Court and the IDF just re-opened saying they have full confidence they can control access. No one was killed today, just wounded--a miracle because the terrorists used a Kalashnikov rifle on full automatic hitting the drivers door with 9 bullets. The passenger in the car was not wounded by the gunfire but suffered minor injuries when the car rolled down an embankment.

Did you happen to notice the wild celebration in the West Bank last night? The peace loving Palestinians were celebrating the death of the 4 Jews (One of whom was pregnant), ambushed and killed in the first attack on Wednesday.

These so-called peace talks are a joke and will cause the fall of Benjamin Netanyahu and his Government. Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, should resign now. U.S. President Obama promised no more unilateral deals, pledging an engagement with many nations in building a peace agreement between the PA and Israel. See any other European nations around the table? England? France? Germany? Italy? Anybody? And, Abbas is no longer the PA President ---not since he lost in January. So what credentials does he possess to legitimize his representation of the Palestinians?

Abbas reiterated today: no settlements, lift the Gaza blockade, all Jews out of East Jerusalem and the eventual Palestinian State.

No Settlements? Since when does the looser in a military contest get to dictate terms?

Lift the Gaza Blockade? Just what is being blocked? From the CIC Scene website: “Over one million tons of humanitarian supplies were delivered by Israel to the people of Gaza in the past 18 months – that’s equal to nearly one ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza.” The most amount of aid, per capita, of any relief effort in the world. So, the only items being blocked by Israel are weapons. And, who rules Gaza? The PA? No, it’s Hamas, sworn to wipe Israel off the map.

Israel should give back Jerusalem to the PA as soon as Washington gives back New Mexico, Arizona, California & Texas to the Mexican Government; Puerto Rico to Spain; and, most of North America back to the Indians.

It makes me sick to see what Israel has become, so dependent on the American teat that they have become emasculated and, I fear, unable to fight themselves out of a wet paper bag.

Peace talks? I don't think so.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?


David Talbot

David can be reached at:
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

575Magazine v16.0

Religious Intolerance
©2010 By David Talbot

I thought about this subject for a long time. There is a place in this world where religious intolerance has been abolished. All faiths are accepted here, even atheists have a home. People of all faiths are free to worship as they please, and all those who seek citizenship may come in peace and earn their place in society. That is, all but Reformed or Conservative Jews.

Is it an Arab country? No, it isn’t. Is it a Communist country? No, it isn’t. It is Israel, the Jewish Homeland where Jews from the world over, regardless of level of observance, or affiliation, have had a “Right of Return-Aliyah,” fast-track to citizenship. That is, until I learned of a new law being pushed through the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) in the current session.

Keep in mind, Israel is a religious democracy. For religious purposes, in Israel, the Orthodox Chief Rabbi’s of the two main branches of Judaism (Ashkenazi and Sephardic) set the standard for who is a Jew, and other Jewish policies and observances. For immigration purposes however, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that anyone recognized by any of the world-wide movements (Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform) is a Jew and has a right to be an Israeli citizen. (Note: Understanding the technical differences between each movement is too lengthy for this forum.)

What is the practical consequence of this difference of opinion between the Chief Rabbi’s and the world-wide authorities? Simple. Israel has no civil marriage or divorce. The rules for marriage and divorce are left up to the Chief Rabbi’s. If a person is member of the Conservative or Reformed movements, they have two options. They can convert to Orthodox (A fairly lengthy process), or they can fly over to Cyprus, and get married, or divorced, there (Why Cyprus? It’s closest to Israel).

Now there is a second consequence of this conflict of ideologies. Immigration to Israel and the “Right of Return.” Here’s where the new law will affect many, my wife and I included.

In order to claim the “Right to Return”, one must prove they are Jewish, thus possessing a right to immediate Israeli citizenship. This new law, if passed by the entire Knesset, will change the standard defining a Jew to the Strict Orthodox standard, removing the right to return to all, except, Orthodox believers.

For most people, this is “Ho hum, who cares?” The answer is the demographics of the Jewish population in Israel and in the United States. I’d estimate that 90% of the Jewish Community in the United States is affiliated with the Reformed Movement. Imagine the effect on 5,000,000 people suddenly being told they are not Jewish enough to be Israeli’s. But, Jewish enough to support the Jewish State emotionally and financially. Of course, with a total population of 15,000,000 Jews world-wide, this internal conflict isn’t going to make front page news anywhere, except Israel, New York City, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

But for this writer and his wife, one of whom is a Reform Movement convert, it shakes our belief system and not is a subtle way. All of a sudden we’re second class after nearly a lifetime of considering ourselves equal in all aspects of Judaism. I hope the Knesset fails to approve the new law on the first reading and we may continue with our plans to immigrate to Israel, this year. If it passes, our dream of a lifetime may become a nightmare.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours? Contact me at


David Talbot

Monday, June 07, 2010

Sunday, June 5th, Support Israel Rally, Phoenix

Support Israel Campaign
©2010 By David Talbot
June 6, 2010

Phoenix, Arizona: A small, but vocal, group of supporters of Israel, gathered on the side of a busy intersection in Central Phoenix this morning. Their purpose was to voice their support for the Jewish State, and to counteract mounting world-wide pressure to punish Israel for the incident that occurred last week as several ships attempted to break the blockade of Gaza. The gathering was totally peaceful and was repeated around the United States and several capitols around the world.

Several speakers, including Rabbi Pinchas Allouche, Rabbi Arthur Levinsky, Devin Speer, and Farley Weiss, spoke of Israel’s right to detain and inspect cargo ships attempting to run the blockade. They detailed the rationale for the blockade and cited historical animosity of Hamas controlled Gaza. This included firing over 7,000 rockets into Israel with the specific purpose of murdering innocent men, women and children.

Rabbi Arthur Levinsky, spiritual leader of Beth El Congregation in Phoenix, called for participants to contact President Obama and members of the administration to stand up for Israel, “This is the time for us to communicate effectively; to call the White House, or to e-mail President Obama and let him now that the time has come to act unapologetically and unequivocally in Israel’s defense in the face of international condemnation. Now is the time to declare that Israel was not only justified in guarding her borders; it was imperative for her to do so. A strong message from Pennsylvania Avenue must be sent to counter the lies against Israel, and the voices of appeasement.”

The speakers debunked the theory that the blockade is illegal under international law, and that stopping vessels on the high seas, in self-defense, has been a legal tactic of many governments around the world, including the United States blockade of Cuba to keep Soviet ships from delivering weapons of war.

In speaking of the nine individuals who perished during the operation, all expressed regret for their deaths. However, they praised the Israeli soldiers for their restraint in defending themselves for 45 minutes of brutal attacks before they finally had to fire their pistols.

In ending the support rally, all speakers promoted the need to stand up, in every community around the world, to the lies and tactics of Hamas and their supporters.. They indicated that rallies like these will continue over the coming weeks and months as Jews around the world are reminded that peace cannot be attained at the point of a gun or rocket attacks coming from schools or hospitals. Until Hamas changes it’s charter and accepts Israel as a full partner there can be no peace.

David Talbot v15.0

At Last The Truth Comes Out
©June 2010, By David Talbot

I have been watching the disaster being played out in the waters off the Israeli/Gaza Coast. And, while I admit I am biased in favor of Israel, I believe the Jewish State was manipulated by Hamas, Iran, and others, into an impossible position. And finally the true mission of the flotilla bringing “desperately needed aid supplies to our suffering Palestinian brothers and sisters” has been revealed. A headline in the Jerusalem Post, June 2, 2010, says it all: “Flotilla Aid Supplies Refused By Hamas.”

While President Obama and 200 countries around the world are condemning Israel’s actions 40 miles off it’s coast, especially the death of 9 persons on board the ships, the sad truth is that the world loves to hate Israel and that’s really what it’s all about.

How else can you explain such vehement blasting of Israel, after it asked the flotilla to put into port for an inspection of the cargo? And, Israel offered to let the cargo pass to Gaza, if it proved to be humanitarian relief aid. Of course the ships turned down the offer. Why? The answer is simple, they wanted a fight. And Israel took the bait.

To prove the point of international hatred of Israel, consider what happened last week. North Korea, in a true act of war, torpedoed a South Korean ship in international waters killing 46 South Korean sailors. Did the world erupt in violent protest? No! Did President Obama call for an investigation? No! Did Secretary Clinton, traveling in the Far East rise to the defense of our traditional ally? Of course not! That kind of reaction is reserved for little Israel who fully understands the punch line: “It isn’t paranoia when they really are out to get you!”

I don’t know what the final outcome of this disaster will be, as it is being played out now, at the U.N. and in capitols around the globe. But I can guess. Israel will be forced into some accommodation of the Palestinians, by the Obama Administration, which has finally found a country in the world that will actually follow, albeit reluctantly, U.S. pressure.

Anyway, that’s my opinion, what’s yours? My contact information is posted below.


David Talbot

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 v 14.0

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling
©2010, By David Talbot

When traveling in Israel the past three years, we’ve observed Israeli police periodically asking individuals for Identity Papers. We notice this as we drive around the country and as casual observers from our apartment terrace over looking the very busy Allenby-Hayarkon intersection in Tel Aviv.

Without exception, these individuals promptly hand over their ID cards and follow the instructions of the police. After a minute or two of what seems like casual conversation, the police hand the documents back and everyone goes on their way.

There are no demonstrations, although Israelis are passionate demonstrators. There are no threats of lawsuits for civil rights violations. There are no Al Sharptons calling for civil disobedience. There is no fear of racial profiling. Why? Because every Israeli knows who the terrorists are and what they plan on doing.

But here in Arizona, and across the country, liberals are reacting like Chicken Little to a new law, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Brewer, last week Exactly what is it about this new law that has created a firestorm of criticism around the nation?

The new law defines illegal entry to the United States as a crime. But wait, didn’t we all know that already? Doesn’t the very term “Illegal” mean that an activity is criminal? So, there must be something else about this law that has liberals organizing protests, letter writing campaigns, and threatening legal action to make the law null and void.

The law defines “being here illegally” as a crime and establishes penalties for this illegal conduct, including fines and jail time. Further, this law allows law enforcement to ask for proof of immigration status, when a person is suspected of being in this country illegally. This provision of the law is what so many find problematic, with the potential of leading to racial profiling. (Why profiling is bad is totally baffling to Israelis.)

However, law enforcement may only question a persons immigration status when that person is observed, or is suspected of, some other illegal activity. So, a person detained by police for some suspected infraction of the civil or criminal code, may also have his immigration status questioned. If that person cannot prove he or she is here legally, they may be arrested.

Is this a radical departure from prior police procedure? Actually no, it is exactly the same. Except, prior to enactment of this law, persons here illegally were turned over to ICE and deported or set free, pending a hearing. Now, the detained person may be jailed and fined for being here illegally. That is in addition to the civil or criminal charges that person may face from the underlying act.

The question of “legalized racial profiling” is a total fiction fabricated by those who want no restriction on immigration and in fact lobby for open borders. Or, have a need to make political points with their constituents. Truth and accuracy are not critical components in their outrageous commentaries.

This law has shined a spotlight on the real issue, the lack of a national comprehensive immigration policy. To paraphrase President Obama, in the absence of a national policy, states will make policy of their own. In fact, Texas is now considering legislation using Arizona SB1070 as a model for their act.

Although a recent poll showed 71% of Arizona residents favor the new law, we welcome new residents and visitors regardless of Race, Religion, National Origin, Political Affiliation, and all legal immigration categories. Come and stay for a day, week, month, year, or a lifetime. But if you are in this country illegally and commit a crime here in Arizona, you’re going to jail.

Anyway, that’s my opinion.


David Talbot

Sunday, April 11, 2010 v13.0

©2010 By David Talbot

The Readers Digest is one of my favorite publications. It contains a lot of information presented in a condensed format including “How to” tips for dealing with many everyday annoying situations.

So, I’m flipping through the pages of the August 2009 issue, during a biology break today, and I come across “How to Get a Person on the Phone” on page 97.

This article is a list of little things a person can do to defeat the automated answering services of virtually every company, service, and governmental organization in this modern world. It’s what comes right after “Press 1 for English……”

I won’t repeat the entire list of suggestions, just one: “Swear. Some systems put anyone who is using profanity at the front of the line.” My mind jumped to George Carlin and his routine of the 7 dirty words you can’t use on TV. I wondered which ones the author may have contemplated? I also wondered who may have programmed profane words into the answering software so that it, a machine, would recognize the vocalizations as profanity in the first place?

We seem to be living in an angry, profanity infused world these days. I can’t go to any mall or shopping center and pass by a group of teens and not be astonished by the crude and insensitive comments I hear come out of the mouths of these kids. And that’s from the girls!

Facebook, and other social networking sites, reveal posts crammed full of four letter words that make me wonder if our society has sunk into the depths of depravity rivaling ancient Rome. Teens, boys and girls, sending text messages of themselves engaged in sexual conduct (Sexting) is the new fad. These digital recordings are posted on You Tube where they have a world wide audience.

So, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that The Readers Digest is recommending profanity as a way to get somebody’s attention. But given the state of our society, I don’t think that anybody would really notice, not even an answering machine.

Anyway, that’s my opinion.


David Talbot

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 v12.0

Is Obama Good For Israel?
©2010 By David Talbot

I’m having a running debate, a friendly discussion, with a friend about the dust up over the Israeli Government’s decision to build 1,500 homes in East Jerusalem. And, whether the treatment Prime Minister Netanyahu received was, in fact, a snub? And, if it was, was it intentional? Here’s my opinion.

After the war in 1967, Israel took control of Jerusalem from Jordan. As the Jordanians left, they destroyed the city, taking particular care to demolish all Jewish holy sites, desecrate Jewish cemeteries, and obliterate all Jewish historical monuments. Fast forward to 2009 and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government agrees to evict all Jewish settlers and turns the strip over to the Palestinians. And what do the Palestinians do? They repeat what the Jordanians did, leaving Jerusalem.

When did East Jerusalem, and new settlements become an issue for the Palestinians? It was President Obama, during the Middle Eastern Apology Tour, who unilaterally declared, “no new settlements in Jerusalem,” as a precondition to peace talks, not the Palestinians. Palestinian PM Abbas jumped on this as yet another reason to delay peace negotiations. This is not the first time the Palestinians wrestled defeat from the jaws of success. Time after time, Israel has offered concessions, including a 2-state solution, going all the way back to the Carter Administration. And, time after time, from Arafat to Abbas, the puppet masters pulling the strings from oppressive regimes in the Middle East, yanked defeat out of the arms of success.

Now, after so many years, Israelis weary of the build up of arms along it Northern frontier with Lebanon and inside Gaza, elected a conservative government which has stated loud and clear: Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our capitol!

Did Obama snub Netanyahu? Of course he did. Was it intentional? Of course it was. The “meeting” was scheduled past “prime time” in Israel, and Mr. Netanyahu was denied all of the usual protocol normally given to a heads of state, friend and foe alike. Mr. Obama can bow to a Saudi Prince, cuddle up to Hugo Chavez, but the only ally the United States has, and can count on, in the Middle East, is treated to the most humiliating display of a school yard bully I can remember in my lifetime, by a sitting president.

In covering the worsening relations with Israel, the world press is ignoring the 2,000 lb gorilla in the room: Iran. The United States has all but given up on Iran and Israel can’t afford to wait much longer. I believe that Israel’s stance on so-called settlements is a warning to Iran that Israel needs support from the United States, but will, when push comes to shove, take care of itself even if it has to go it alone. As late as March 30th, Obama and French President Sarkozy, meeting in Washington, continue calling for “tough sanctions” against Iran. But it’s all talk, and Iran knows it.

Other questions that American can ignore, but Israel can’t. Who speaks for Palestinians? The PA has authority only in the West Bank. It’s Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip. Hamas has no intention of making peace with Israel. What about Lebanon? Hezbollah, financed by Iran through its Syrian surrogate, has amassed over 40,000 rockets on the border with Israel. Has the Administration taken any action to diffuse the situation in Southern Lebanon?

When many Palestinians were displaced in 1948, after Palestine was partitioned by the UN, where did they go? Most went to Jordan and Egypt. The Arab world wants Israel to pay compensation to the displaced families, and repatriation to Israel. Why? Weren’t they fully integrated into the Muslim societies where they waited for the full destruction of the new State of Israel? No. The were kept as second class citizens in refugee camps with no facilities, no opportunities for work or study, and treated like prisoners.

What about the Jewish residents of Arab countries in 1948? Many were killed, and almost 100% were evicted from there homes and exiled to other countries, mostly Israel. Anybody notice any country, anywhere, calling for compensation and repatriation of these refugees?

There is still time for Israel and the Obama administration to repair the damage, but I doubt it will happen. And, as prophesized, Israel will go it alone, and that’s not in anyone’s best interest. No, Obama is not good for Israel.

Anyway, that’s my opinion.


David Talbot

Friday, March 26, 2010 v11.0

A Real Tragedy
©2010 by David Talbot

Metro-Phoenix, Arizona. The Phoenix Jewish News, in a story published March 26th, tells of a local beloved Rabbi being arrested in the parking lot of his synagogue for the rape of a seven year old girl, in 2000. The details of the alleged rape are not revealed, and neither is the question as to why the young woman waited until 2009 to report the incident.

The Rabbi has been the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chandler, a few miles Southeast of Phoenix, since August 2006. The President of the synagogue, as quoted in the Phoenix Jewish News, made the following comment regarding the arrest: “We’re mortified by the allegations. It is our goal to make sure that our community stays whole. …We take very seriously the safety of our children and our members.”

Here’s what’s bothering me. If he did the crime, he’ll do the time. But I was totally shocked that the congregation didn’t give any indication of support for the Rabbi or his family. There is a concept in American Jurisprudence that everyone is innocent, until proven guilty in a court of law.

I have no sympathy for child molesters. But I do believe in fair play. Nine years is a long time for someone to recall events and places accurately, especially someone who was only 7 years old at the time the alleged incident occurred. The Rabbi was living and working using his legal name in a highly public profession. And, there has been no indication of unusual behavior, or warning signs, since 2000, reported by the authorities.

Perhaps the authorities have evidence to support the allegations, which will be presented in court. Perhaps he actually did the crime. Perhaps he may found guilty of an offense at some time in the future. If so, it (the rape) would be a real tragedy and he would deserve the max. However, until that time, I wish the congregation would consider a public addition to their statement to include something outlining all the good he has done in the Chandler Jewish Community. This would not be an acceptance of any prior bad act, but an acknowledgement of his good work. Even if he is found innocent of all charges, his reputation is all but destroyed and that too is a real tragedy.

Anyway, that is my opinion.


David Talbot

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Israel 2010, Part 6 (Final in this Series)

Israel, Part 6
©2101, By David Talbot
February 23, 2010

Galillee, Israel. The Galillee is a region of Northern Israel with so many sites of interest that it’s worth the effort, if you have the time, to rent a car and spend a few days in this region alone. At the time of King Herod, almost 3,000,000 people lived here in hundreds of small towns scattered around the region. We already mentioned Nazareth, one of the largest cities in the Galillee (See part 4 in this series). In this final part of the series, I’ll describe 3 other sites of interest: Capernaum, Jordan River Baptismal Site, and Bet Shean.

Capernaum. Located on the north shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galillee), about an hour East of Haifa, Capernaum is home to Peter’s House and Jesus’ Synagogue, making this site a “Must See” for all Christian visitors. Most non-religious tour groups also visit this site for its historical significance.

The White Synagogue, built over Jesus’ Synagogue, has been partially restored here, as is the home of Peter. From Frommer’s Israel: “Capernaum was the home of perhaps four of Jesus’ other original followers; it was the place where Jesus began to gather his disciples around him...”

Although we are Jews, we found this site to be extremely interesting and a great insight into the daily life of our ancestors. Looking at the ruins of Peter’s house, you can clearly visualize how life must have been at that time. After visiting this and other sites like it, reading the bible will never be the same.

Jordan River Baptismal Site. This site is located in Teverya (Tiberius), on the Western Shore of the Kinneret. Teverya, built in 18 CE, by King Herod’s son, was an important location for Jews taking refuge here after the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The Mishna and Jerusalem Talmud, critically important Jewish texts, were compiled here. This is also a good place to spend a few days to explore the Kinneret, Golan, and Galillee regions.

The original Baptism site for Jesus and his disciples was probably closer to the present day southern end of the Kinneret. Years ago, a dam was constructed on the Jordan River, and the flow was redirected by this location. Called Yardenit, it was established by Kibbutz Kinneret, sometime after its establishment in 1909. Christian pilgrims are able to safely immerse themselves to this day. A restaurant and gift shop where you can purchase containers of Jordan River Water, are also located here. This is a beautiful place to spend a few hours and contemplate the history of this region.

Bet Shean. Bet Shean is located about 45KM South of Teverya, and is described by Frommer’s Israel as, “A vast, Roman-Byzantine city with colonnaded streets and a theater that could house 5,000 at once…” To the east of the city, Inside Bet Shean National Park can be seen Tel Bet Shean. Tel is a Hebrew word meaning: a mound or hill created by successive layers of ruined cities. Artifacts from Egyptian, Jewish, Roman, Greek, Philistine, Turk, and Arab communities have been found Tel Bet Shean.

The main attraction for most visitors is the Bet Shean Archeological Park, which is still in development. The Cardo, or colonnaded Main Street of the city, takes you by bath houses, shops, and the Roman Theater.

The design of the city, with the main North-South street (Cardo) and secondary East-West cross street (Decumanus), is typical of Roman street design around the world. In the Old City of Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter is laid out over the Cardo.

Some final thoughts. Israel is a land of many contrasts. From Bedouins living in shacks in the desert to multi-million dollar mansions along the beach in Caesarea, the range is astounding. From ultra-religious Jewish communities in Jerusalem, to porno shops in Tel Aviv, you can see it all. From archeological digs 4,000 years old to 50 story modern condo complexes to dilapidated 70 year old hotels and pensions, there is a style and a reason for anyone and everyone to visit this country.

Israel is about the size of New Jersey. Yet there is more variety than larger countries in terms of history, geography, ancient sites, and modern marvels. You can go from the lowest spot on earth at the Dead Sea (1,200 feet below sea level), to the ski resort on Mt Hermon (summit at 6,630 feet above sea level), in less than 4hours. Walk the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem at 10:00AM, have a cup of coffee in Jaffa at Noon, eat dinner in Haifa at 6:00 PM, and be back for a night cap at your hotel in Jerusalem by 10:00PM. It is a place that many visit and few return home unchanged.

Here are some of our favorites (But do your homework, everybody’s taste is different):

1. Favorite Travel Guide: Frommer’s Israel.
2. Favorite Airline: Continental.
3. Favorite Apartment (Tel Aviv) (tiny rooms, but right on the ocean):
4. Second Favorite Apartment (Tel Aviv) (2 blocks from the ocean): .
5. Favorite Beach Towns: Netanya, Caesarea, Ashkelon.
6. Favorite Hotel: Metropolitan (Tel Aviv)
7. Favorite Hotel (Jerusalem): Olive Tree
8. Favorite Market: Shuk Hacarmel (Tel Aviv).
9. Favorite Mode of Transportation: Sherut.
10.Least Favorite form of transportation: Taxi (Too Expensive, but they go everywhere).
11.Favorite Restaurant: Too many to pick a favorite.
12.Favorite Historical Sites: Old City of Jerusalem, Caesarea, Bet Shean, Masada, Ashkelon National Park, Old City of Akko.
13.Favorite Religious Sites: Old City of Jerusalem, Masada, Nazareth, Capernaum, Jordan River Baptismal Site (Tiberius).
14.Favorite way to get to Tel Aviv from the airport: Train from Terminal 3.
15.Favorite Rental Car: Budget (Tel Aviv or Jerusalem—not from the airport).
16.Favorite Mall: Dizengoff Mall (Tel Aviv).
17.Favorite Day for the Mall: Thursday and Friday mornings in building B—Food court days.
18.Must See One Time: Dead Sea (At the same time as Masada).
19.Favorite Day to Walk on The Beach: Saturday (Best for people watching).
20.Favorite Time to Eat: 10:00 to 16:00 Businessmen’s Specials at most restaurants—up to half off normal prices (Portions are huge anyway).
21.Most Over-Rated City: Daliyat-Al-Carmel Druze Village.
22.Most Over-Looked City: Ashkelon and its National Park and Historic Site.
23.Favorite Tour Sponsor: Gate 1 Travel (

There are many more towns, religious sites, and parks, that are left for us to explore here and that’s why we’ll keep coming back. I hope you have a chance to explore Israel some day. If you would like more information about this country and the “who, what, when, where, and how” of Israel, send me an email and I’ll be glad to share our experiences with you. Just remember it’s my opinion, so do your homework.


David Talbot

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Israel 2010, Part 5

Israel 2010, Part 5
©2010 By David Talbot
February 16, 2010

Tel Aviv, Israel. I was planning on writing about the Galillee Region this week, but got side-tracked by a visit to Jerusalem. So, we’ll chat about the Galillee in the next report.

Jerusalem (Getting there): There are several ways to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Taking a commercial tour is the best option for the first visit. There are lots of tours available through your hotel, the Israel Tourist Office, or online. If you have a car, Highway 1 is very good with excellent signage and gas stations at several points along the route. Another option is by train. Israeli trains are very comfortable, are reasonably priced, and run frequently between all major points in their system. Last, and the method we chose, you can go by Sherut (mini-bus).

The Sherut system in Israel is interesting, to say the least. In Tel Aviv, Sherut routes parallel the city bus system. So, from our apartment, we can take either the number 16 bus, or the number 16 Sherut, to the Central Bus Station. The big difference is that Sheruts only carry 8 to 10 passengers. When they’re full, they continue to the Central Station and only take on new fares as current passengers get off.

Another odd characteristic of the citywide Sherut system is the way you pay. Passengers get onboard and go directly to empty seats. They then tap the shoulder or arm of the person in front of them and pass the 5.80 shekels forward, similar to getting a hot dog at a ball game when you are sitting in the middle of a row. Everyone knows what to do. If possible, sit near the front of the Sherut and become a part of the cash going up to the driver and any change going back. It’s a hoot!

For inter-city transportation, you board Sheruts at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. And then, you wait. Inter-city Sheruts only depart to the destination city when they’re full. If you’re going to Jerusalem or Haifa, it may take 10 minutes or less to fill. If you are going to a destination less traveled, it could take 30 minutes or more before you depart.

Arriving in Jerusalem you discover the reason why it’s better to let someone else do the driving. Streets choked with traffic, impossible parking, wide boulevards that become turning and twisting little alleys, and other drivers with more death wishes than Charles Bronson, is why we take the Sherut.

The Sherut from Tel Aviv drops you off at the Jerusalem Central Station where you take the number 1 bus directly to the Old City. In fact, it circles the Old City so the visitor can depart at the most convenient of the four entrance gates for your destination inside.

To return to Tel Aviv, simply reverse the process.

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem costs 22 Shekels each way (About $6.00) and takes about 45 minutes.

Jerusalem (The Old city): Jerusalem, Israel’s Capitol, is the premier destination for the majority of travelers to the Holy Land. Every step you take here is in the footsteps of the ancient ancestors of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

The Old City is divided into four areas, all but one open to visitors: The Armenian Quarter (Closed), the Jewish Quarter, the Arab Quarter, and the Christian Quarter. Each area has a distinct flavor. Regardless of religious preference, each is a “Must See” at least once during any trip here.

Each quarter is a fully functioning city with apartments, shops, restaurants, schools, etc. There are Synagogues, Churches, and Mosques, ancient and modern, throughout the Old City.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Via Dolorosa, Western Wall, and Dome of the Rock, are all within its walls, and open to visitors. All of these sites can be seen in one day, if that’s all you have. Alternatively, you could move here and spend a lifetime and still miss something.

On our current visit, we stuck with the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, having visited all the Christian sites, and shopped in the Arab Quarter on prior visits.

One thing we noticed on this trip: a lack of respect for the nature of the religious sites. When visiting the Western Wall, synagogues, mosques, or churches, please dress appropriately, and conduct yourself with decorum.

Most Israel tours spend 3 to 4 days in Jerusalem, with a half- day tour of the Old City included in the package. Many package tours also offer optional extended tours of the Old City, the entire Capitol, and specific sites of interest. If you are on a package tour and have a “free” day, consider a side trip to Masada (the fortress of King Herod, and the last stronghold of the zealots) and the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth). These two are usually combined in one full day optional tour. If you are traveling on your own, you may book these tours with the concierge desk of your hotel, or online.

If you prefer, one day trips from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Masada, The Dead Sea, and Galillee can be arranged through the Israel Tourist office.

Next report: Galillee Region and some final thoughts.


David Talbot

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Israel 2010, Part 4

Israel 2010
©2010 By David Talbot
Part 4

February 8, 2010

Netanya, Israel. High cliffs overlooking clear turquoise seas, white sandy beaches hugging the cliffs, and warm light breezes off the water; a description of some island paradise in the South Pacific? No, this is Netanya, only 25 KM north of frenetic Tel Aviv. Long an enclave of French ex-pats and absentee owners, Netanya is booming.

Along the approximately five miles of Netanya’s coastline, high-rise condominiums, apartments, villas, and hotels are being built, or are in pre-construction sales promotions. Israeli tourism in December 2009 hit 225,000, an all time record. Increases in seasonal visitors have fueled increased demand for both short and long term accommodations, here in Netanya, and in other areas of the country.

The City is bisected by Highway 2, the major North-South traffic corridor, with the industrial areas to the East of the Highway and the mostly residential West side. The city is part Tel Aviv and part Paris. The beach promenade has been improved and is equal to ocean drives we’ve experienced in California, Hawaii, Auckland, and Florida.
Accommodations and restaurants in Netanya are available for every taste and budget.

As in Tel Aviv, public transportation is available throughout the city. In addition, train service is available on the rail line that connects many of Israel’s major cities, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa.

While in Israel, Netanya is a perfect getaway for the ultra modern beach experience vacation before, or after, a tour of Israel’s antiquities.

Nazareth, Israel. On every secular or Christian oriented tour operator’s mandatory list of sites, is the city of Nazareth. Our group arrived here in afternoon of the first day of our tour, after lunch in Daliyat-Al-Carmel. The attraction is Mary’s Church of the Annunciation. The site is impressive to everyone, regardless of religious preference. And, it is a great example of how this “Jewish” country preserves religious sites of significance for every community that has called this land holy. This is in contrast to other nations that have not been respectful of all mankind.

Mary’s Church is beautiful inside and out, and services are conducted here daily. Appropriate dress and decorum is suggested, inside the church. Also, don’t miss the excavation in the floor of the church, where Mary’s personal Mikveh was discovered, and is preserved. A Mikveh is a place where Jewish men and women cleanse themselves at prescribed times according to the Torah. Your tour operator will point out how ancient civilizations built upon ruins, keeping them fully or partially intact to be discovered by future archeologists. Operators will also point out whether a site is “in situ” (exactly as excavated), or a replica of an ancient site, throughout the holy land.

The Galillee Region, Israel. In addition to Nazareth, most tours take travelers to the Eastern edge of the Galillee region to view Capernaum, The Jordan River Baptismal site, the Sea of Galillee, Tiberius, and Bet Shean, before continuing to Jerusalem. These sites will consume most of a day, and represent many periods of Jewish and Christian history. I recommend, Tiberius and the surrounding area as a possible place for a post tour stay of 2 or 3 days.

In the next report I’ll give you a few of the highlights of this region that have been of interest to us as we continued our tour.

More Travel Tips:

Cell phones: Confirm, in advance of your trip, that your carrier will have roaming service and telephone compatibility. On a recent trip to Israel, my T-Mobile cell phone didn’t work. There was a roaming network, but I had recently purchased a new phone which was not compatible with the Israeli network.

Water: Water is safe to drink everywhere except parts of the Dead Sea area.

Even if you stay in a hotel without cooking facilities, don’t miss the open air markets in almost every city. In Tel Aviv-Yafo, Shuk Ha Carmel, Shuk Ha Tikvah, and Shuk Ha Pish B’sheen, are great shopping opportunities for food and merchandise. Friday afternoons are very busy in preparation for the Sabbath.

Rental cars: All major rental agencies have facilities in Israel. Book your vehicle online for best rates. Renting a car at Ben Gurion Airport includes an extra “facilities” expense. Gas is expensive and public transportation is available almost everywhere. So you may not need a car for the entire duration of your trip.

Short-term apartment rentals: We have rented apartments on each visit to Israel. Off season rentals are available from December to March or April. Weekly or monthly rates are about half of hotels. We typically pay about $1,800.00 for a monthly rental, during January and February. With hotel rates running $150 to $300 a day, an apartment rental may be an attractive alternative. The closer to the sea the higher the price

Restaurants: What can I say? There are places for every taste, and every budget. But here’s a tip, look for businessmen’s specials. Most restaurants have them from 11:00 to 15:00 every day, and they are a real bargain, compared to regular meal pricing.
Shopping: There are malls and stores lining almost every major street in Tel Aviv and other cities. Modern grocery stores and a great variety of specialty shops can be found everywhere. In many smaller shops, owners expect the customer to bargain for the best price. Even if you are reluctant to bargain, simply walking away slowly may be enough of an inducement to reduce prices at some stores, especially in the open markets.

Dollar denominated transactions: Some stores may accept dollars for purchases, but a word of caution: have a general idea of the rate of exchange. Google “Currency Converter” to get an application to check world currencies. Also, if you have a bank or debit card, they will work in Israel.

Banking options: As a general rule, notify your bank, credit/debit card issuers, and other financial institutions, that you will be traveling abroad. Make sure you understand the daily limit of an ATM transaction: 500 shekels is about $135.00 (as of the date of this article). As an example, if your bank has a limit of $250.00, it may not authorize a 500 shekel withdrawal as it appears to violate the daily limit. Credit cards are accepted for payment here, as much as they are in the States. However, in addition to bank fees, most financial institutions also charge a “Currency Exchange” fee, usually 3%. To the best of my knowledge, Discover Card is not accepted anywhere.

Don’t forget to send an email if you have a question or comment.

Next Report: More on the Galillee Region.


David Talbot

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Israel 2010, Part 3

Israel 2010 Part 3
©2010 David Talbot

February 3, 2010, Akko, Israel

Akko. This ancient city is not on most tour itineraries. If you extend your stay in Israel for a few days (I recommend 2 weeks) it’s easy to get to by bus, sherut (minibus), or train. The Old City is a fortified complex of dwellings, mosques, synagogues, restaurants and shops. Entry is free and you can stroll through the city at your leisure. The Old City resembles Jerusalem, on a reduced scale. Mentioned by Pharaoh Thutmouse III about 3,500 years ago, the old city has been ruled by the Phoenicians, the biblical tribe of Asher, Kings David and Solomon, and Alexander the Great. The New Testament mentions that Saint Paul stopped here as did Julius Caesar (48 BCE). There’s more, but I think you get the idea. This is the rule here in Israel; it is an ancient land worthy of more than a casual visit.

Haifa. The city of Haifa, located about 90 miles north of Tel Aviv, is the second stop, the first day of most tours. But it’s a quick stop near the middle of Mt. Carmel, overlooking the beautiful Baha’i gardens including a panoramic view of the city. However, Haifa has many religious and secular sites of interest. It is a great place to spend a day or two if you extend your stay in Israel beyond the tour. While Haifa is not a major tourist destination, there are hotels to satisfy any taste. And, Haifa is an excellent place to serve as a base for the exploration of Northwestern Israel, including Akko, Nahariya, and the Druze villages along the edge of Mt. Carmel.

Haifa has malls, restaurants, beaches, markets, and holy sites that would take a life time to explore. In addition, Haifa is a model of diversity in that all three major, and several minor (in terms of numbers), religions are free to practice their faiths. In this city, employers ask, “can you do the work?” Religion is not an issue of employment. Public schools replicate that ethic.

Daliyat-Al-Carmel. About 25 minutes from Central Haifa along route 672, and winding around Mt. Carmel to the east, are the Druze Villages of Isfiya and Daliyat-Al-Carmel. Here’s where you’ll find all those unique souvenirs to bring back home to friends and family. At least that’s what the tour operators will tell you. My opinion? Shop carefully and keep in mind that Jerusalem markets, and the Old City, are chock full of hundreds of these shops, and competition keeps prices lower. Also, as time goes by, you’ll notice that gift shops begin to look alike and offer the same merchandise. Remember that Mexican cruise where the shops at dockside Ensenada were expensive? But in town things were much cheaper and open to negotiation? Same idea!

A few words about the Druze community, from the 4th edition of Frommers “Israel”: “The Druze are Arabic speaking people who are, however, not Muslims. …..The Druze were loyal to Israel during the 1948 war, and several of their brigades are highly respected detachments in the Israeli Army.”

More Travel Tips.
If you are planning your first trip to Israel, consider a tour. There are many tour operators available online, and in travel magazines. Prices vary considerably from one to the other, so shop around. Whether you go with a synagogue /church sponsored group, or a commercial tour, all the details are arranged in advance. The highlights of the tour are laid out and optional itineraries can be booked. The tours always include a daily Israeli Breakfast, which is reminiscent of a Roman Orgy of food, as you have never experienced. The trip from area code 575 is a long one. Having a personal representative greet you at the airport and take care of you throughout the tour is a great stress reliever.

A month or so prior to departure on our first trip, we booked an apartment, on the internet, to extend our stay in Israel Tel Aviv for 3 weeks after the tour. By then we were rested, felt comfortable in the country, and really enjoyed the city life. Most tour operators allow for extended departures.

Public transportation in Israel is safe and economical. If you extend your tour by a week or two, you do not need to rent a car. Besides the fact that parking in Israel is impossible, buses, cabs, and mini-buses (called Sheruts) are everywhere and are cheap. In addition, train service in Israel is available to most cities, and is also inexpensive. This trip we took the train from the airport to Tel Aviv. The fare was about $3.75 each (14 Shekels each). The ticket machines have an “English” option, and take Visa, MC and AMEX. A taxi from the airport is about $50.00.

Last tip this time: Continental Airlines fly’s direct to Tel Aviv from Newark, N.J. Most other air carriers have an intermediate stop in Europe. With no baggage fees for international flights, free in-flight meals for most flights over 4 hours, and lots of connections, they have become our carrier of choice to Israel. They also land at Terminal 3 in Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), where the train station is located, inside the terminal.

Next report: Netanya, Nazareth, Galillee, and more travel tips.

David Talbot

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Israel 2010, Part 2

Israel 2010, Part 2
©2010 David Talbot

January 29, 2010, Or Akiva/Caesarea Israel.

The Holy Land.
For many people of faith around the world, the image of Israel is a reflection of their religious experience. And it is true; the country is of unique significance to the three major religions of the world. Jews, Christians, and Moslems all feel a special relationship to the biblical land of Canaan. However, to the first time traveler, the country could be a disappointment or a confirmation, or both, of the expectations one may have of the land of Israel.

While Israel is a very modern country, and suffers similar social problems as do all countries around the world. It is also a very ancient land with ancient cultural roots that persist even today. Here in this mystical land, religious tradition and secular non-observance co-exist, mostly peacefully throughout.

A goal of this series of reports is to describe how the cultural differences can work to make your trip to Israel more just another vacation.

Is it safe to visit Israel?
Short answer, yes it is safe to come to Israel. In fact, in almost every city and town, crime is less of a problem than in most US cities. However, most people who wonder about safety are actually thinking about terrorist activities, not common criminals. The answer is the same. It is safe. Last year over 2,000,000 tourists chose Israel as their travel destination. December ’09 saw 225,000 passengers come through ultramodern Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), an all-time record. There were two terrorist related incidents in 2009, neither of which involved visitors.

Travel Tips.
Purchase a travel guide at your local book retailer. We use “Frommers Israel.” Doing a little research and planning for sites of interest is critical here, because there is so much to see.

Bring a little cash (dollars) for an emergency. More important, bring an ATM/Debit card. They all work here and it’s safer than carrying a lot of money. US credit cards are accepted everywhere. Discover is unknown, but MC, VISA, Diners, and AMEX all ok.

Learn a few words and phrases in Hebrew. Important: Eyfo Ha Sherutim (Where are the toilets?) In order for Israeli kids to attend university, they must be fluent in English. As a result, almost everybody here speaks at least a little English. All streets, most shops, and malls, have English language sign.

Most US cell phones will work here. Calls to the States are expensive, but text messages are not, on most calling plans. There are internet cafes everywhere and they’re not expensive, so unless you need it for some reason, leave your laptop home.

Caesarea Israel
If you take a tour in Israel (More about tours in a later report), this is usually the first stop. Located about 40 KM (25 miles) north of Tel Aviv, is one of the most beautiful cities in Israel. But that’s not why the tours start here. Caesarea is, according to Frommers, “the spectacular city of Herod the Great, 37 BCE- 4 CE.” You can find many excellent reference books on the history of this community. However, here’s what you’ll see at the site: The Roman Theater, Hippodrome, Crusader City, Roman Aqueduct, and more. It is an awesome site, important to Jews, Christians, and Moslems, all of whom met their fate, at one time or another, here.

Next time: More travel tips, Akko, and Haifa.

Until then, Shalom from Israel.

David Talbot

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Israel 2010

Israel 2010
©2010 David Talbot

Special For Readers

Every year, my wife and I travel to Israel not so much to renew our Jewish roots, but to get a better understanding of life for the average Israeli family. This year we are sharing some of our experiences with 575 readers. We have several reasons to bring you along with us.

The primary purpose of this series is to dispel any misconceptions you may have about coming to Israel. In addition, we want to illustrate, as much as possible, the exceptional recreational, educational, and spiritual opportunities available, and in some cases only available, in this unique country.

Here are some of the things we’ll describe as we go along, through March 1, 2010: Is Israel safe to visit? Is there any reason why a non-religious person might visit Israel? I don’t speak Hebrew, will I be lost there? Is it expensive to travel to the Middle East? Should I take a tour or go it alone? Are Israelis friendly? When is the best time of the year to go? Can I rent a car, book my own hotel, rent an apartment online, use my credit cards, and in general, do all the things I do when I’m on vacation in the States, for my vacation in Israel? And there will be more, much more.

If you have ever considered traveling to the Holy Land (more about this expression in the next installment), and have questions you always wanted to ask, here’s your chance. Send me a note, and I’ll respond from here in Or Akiva or Tel Aviv. And, since I am not a travel agent or tour operator, you can be sure your name will not be on some list flooding your mail box with unwanted “Special Deals.”

When you send a question, please indicate if you wish your name to be included in the response. In any case, your email address will never be included in the discussion.

Next Installment: The Holy Land, Is it safe to travel to Israel, and Caesarea.


Here’s how you can contact the writer:

David Talbot

Monday, January 18, 2010

I think it’s almost time…

I think it’s almost time…
©2010 David Talbot

June 1967, from “In 1967 Israel did not wake up one morning and decide to go to war - she woke up one morning and found she had to defend herself.” After the war ended, Jordan relinquished control of Jerusalem and, as they departed the West Bank, desecrated all Jewish and Christian, cemeteries, holy places, and many structures.

Baghdad, Iraq, March 2003. The United States and 4 allies invade Iraq to topple Sadam Hussein’s regime and eliminate weapons of mass destruction and their capability to make them. Iraq fires missiles into Tel Aviv, and the United States tells Israel not to retaliate.

Gaza Strip, September 12, 2005, from the Associated Press: (AP) “Flames shot skyward from four abandoned synagogues in the Gaza Strip on Monday, as thousands of celebrating Palestinians thronged through former Jewish settlements and headed straight for the only buildings left standing.”

Following the IDF withdrawal from Gaza on 9/12/05, a steady stream of rocket and mortar fire rains down on Israeli towns until last year when Israel finally had enough, and they went in to try and eliminate the threat.

January 11, 2010, an earthquake levels most of Haiti’s capitol city, killing and wounding many thousands of innocent civilians. And, one week later, looting and riots are escalating. One of the first assistance units on the scene? The Israeli Defense Forces, who establish a fully staffed field hospital and begins treating patients. The EU, Palestinians, and their allies condemn Israel for the effort saying the dirty little secret is Israels ignorance of the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza. From HAARETZ, January 18, 2010, “…the remarkable identification with the victims of the terrible tragedy in distant Haiti only underscores the indifference to the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza.”

I think it’s almost time for Israel to state, in no uncertain terms: No on the division of Jerusalem.

I think it’s almost time for Israel to accept the fact that the Obama administration doesn’t have any interest in Israel, only in getting Israel to make yet another concession that will ultimately raise up and bite them.

I think it’s past time for the United States to realize that promises from the PA and/or Hamas are stalling tactics with the ultimate goal of wiping Israel off the map.

I think it’s past time for the world to admit that North Korea and Iran will have the bomb and that China and Russia are facilitators.

And, I think it’s time that Israel should say, ENOUGH…..

Anyway, that’s my opinion.


David Talbot

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A New Year's Resolution

A New Year's Resolution
©2009 David Talbot

Every December, I make resolutions, all with good intentions, that nevertheless seem to get pushed into the background of mydaily life after the holidays have come and gone. Things like: I’m going to loose 10lbs this year, save a little more, travel more, etc. You’re probably familiar with this annual ritual.

This year is different. A member of my family is dying of cancer. The particulars are only important to the family. However, the current situation has caused me to make a new resolution this year. And I have already made good on my commitment.

I know, you probably expect me to say something like: I resolve to be kinder, laugh more, cry often, love deeply, say I’m sorry, worry less, enjoy life, and other things we see in countless emails throughout the year. While these are admirable suggestions, that’s not what I did.

When our relative got the diagnosis, we also learned there is no Will, no Advance Directives, no Health Care Power of Attorney, and no idea what to do next. And, my relative is not capable of doing any “end of life” planning at this late date. He’s comfortable with the notion that “everybody knows what I want.”

As the extended family met to discuss medical options and legal issues, it became clear that most of us had not done any end of life planning. That’s when I made my 2010 New Year’s resolution, to take care of my immediate family.

My wife and I sat down with an attorney and completed all the documents necessary to insure that “everybody knows what we want.” This includes physicians, hospitals, the legal authorities, and all our relatives. It didn’t take long and it didn’t cost much. It’s a comforting thought that we have taken care of all the details. Now our children won’t be burdened, at the worst possible time, and our assets will transfer to our loved ones quickly at minimum expense.

Estate Planning requires that a person face certain facts about their own mortality. However, it is a beautiful expression of how much you care for your family, not just here and now, but for a long time in the future.

So, for 2010, resolve to: be kinder, laugh more, cry often, love deeply, say your sorry, worry less, enjoy life, and take care of your family by doing a little advanced planning.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. Happy New Year.


David Talbot