7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Love affair with 'abyss of fire...'

As I read this biographical book, I tried to fathom what drove Pamela Olson - a young American woman from a small town in Oklahoma with a degree in physics - to spending two years traversing military checkpoints and helping farmers harvest olives in the Middle East.

It could have been her adventurous nature and love for travel that brought her to that part of the world, but it was sheer destiny that tossed her into the abyss of fire to tell the world of her "love affair with a homeless homeland".

After graduating from Stanford University in 2002, she worked at a neighbourhood bar to save enough money for a Greek vacation when her French friend suggested Egypt as a less expensive alternative.

She travelled to Cairo and Sinai, where she met an Israeli tourist named Dan who invited her to visit him.

Her journey took her across the Red Sea to Jordan, where she met - by chance - two peace volunteers, who were on holiday from their work in Palestine.

In the few days she spent with them in a downtown Amman hotel, she learned for the first time of the $3 billion the US government pays Israel annually on behalf of American taxpayers.

Stories about occupation, the Palestinian people and human rights activism intrigued her, so she jumped on the opportunity to visit a small Palestinian village called Jayyous.

The author tackles the paradox of occupation in straightforward layman's terms, describing how a 40-mile journey from Jerusalem to the Palestinian city of Nablus would take a full day crossing a separation wall, changing cabs six times and navigating permanent and flying Israeli military checkpoints. Meanwhile a much longer trip with her Israeli friend on "Jewish only settlement roads" could be completed uninterrupted in a much shorter time.

Ever more fascinated by the wickedness of occupation and the joys of life among Palestinians, Pamela Olson took a low-paying job in Ramallah as an editor and head writer for the Palestine Monitor to study and document the daily human rights abuses under Israeli occupation.

She then entered Palestinian politics from its widest doors by becoming the foreign Press co-ordinator for a major candidate in the 2005 presidential election.

In her two years between Jayyous and Ramallah, the author takes the reader on an extraordinary expedition very few of us will ever get the opportunity to experience in a lifetime.

What makes this book special is the writer's ability to keep the reader spellbound with her vivid descriptions of events, people and places.

Book: Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland Author: Pamela Olson

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