Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pam Olson Launches Fast Times in Palestine

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pam Olson Launches Fast Times in Palestine

Article excerpt

This wasn't where I expected to end up at age 23-jobless, planless, and lying through my teeth to Israeli border security. I'd graduated a year earlier, in 2002, with a physics degree from Stanford only to realize I had no interest in spending any more young years in a basement lab doing problem sets.

So begins Pam Olson's memoir of a young woman from a small town in Oklahoma who travels to the West Bank-first Jayyous, then Ramallah-to find out what American news isn't telling her. In short order, she finds herself reporting for The Palestine Monitor, serving as foreign press coordinator for Mustafa Omar Barghouti's 2005 presidential run, and witnessing Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

"When I went to Jayyous," Olson told a crowd of about 100 attendees at her July 7 book launch in Manhattan, "I expected Palestinians to be angry and bitter, especially toward me as an American, because of what they have suffered for more than 60 years. But I found the opposite. They were welcoming and indomitable, still struggling for basic human rights, for the most part nonviolently."

Olson was interviewed at the Palestine Project-sponsored event by Palestinian-American Noor Elashi, who is at work on her own memoir-about her father Ghassan-imprisoned, she said, for allegedly "funneling millions of dollars to a terrorist group, Hamas. …

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