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Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland

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For much of her life—like many Westerners—most of what Pamela Olson knew of the Middle East was informed by headlines and stereotypes. But when she traveled to Palestine in 2003, she found herself thrown with dizzying speed into the realities of Palestinian life.

Fast Times in Palestine is Olson’s powerful, deeply moving account of life in Palestine—both the daily events that are universal to us all (house parties, concerts, barbecues, and weddings) as well as the violence, trauma, and political tensions that are particular to the country. From idyllic olive groves to Palestinian beer gardens, from Passover in Tel Aviv to Ramadan in a Hamas village, readers will find Olson’s narrative both suspenseful and discerning. Her irresistible story offers a multi-faceted understanding of the Palestinian perspective on the Israel/Palestine conflict, filling a gap in the West’s popular understanding of the difficult relationship between the two nations.

At turns funny, shocking, and galvanizing, Fast Times in Palestine is a gripping narrative that challenges our ways of thinking—not only about the Middle East, but about human nature, cultural identity, and our place in the world.

320 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2011

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About the author

Pamela J. Olson

3 books62 followers
I grew up in small-town Oklahoma and studied physics and political science at Stanford University, class of 2002.

I lived in Ramallah for two years, during which I served as head writer and editor for the Palestine Monitor and as foreign press coordinator for Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi’s 2005 presidential campaign.

In January of 2006, I moved to Washington, DC and worked at a Defense Department think tank to try to bring what I had learned to the halls of power. I eventually became disillusioned with the prospect of changing Washington from the inside, and in 2007, I left DC and wrote a book called Fast Times in Palestine. It was published in 2013.

I'm currently working on a novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 131 reviews
Profile Image for Mira .
64 reviews50 followers
December 18, 2011
I've been reading Fast Times in Palestine all last month along with Mourid Barghouti's I saw Ramallah, which has been a most beneficial plan, as both books are memoirs mainly revolving around Palestine's social and commercial center: Ramallah. In Barghouti's poetic, hearty depiction of his long-denied hometown, on his first visit after years of cruel estrangement, I could feel the beating heart of the city, the longing, the waiting and that overwhelming feeling the author felt when he was forced to have a wholly new acquaintance with his own city. Through Pamela's eyes I was allowed a more neutral look at the poignant, fraught atmosphere of my country. It was thrilling to think of what the book contained, what an outsider had to say about a country with such complex history, and enough present conflicts. Happily, what I found transcended my expectations.

The book is amazingly eye-opening, honest, and provided with based facts. It addresses not only the two parts of the conflict -Palestinians and Israelis- but tends to show the whole world that this actually is a global, humane matter. I was carried along with the author on this rich journey in Palestine, enjoying her desire to know more, and feeling highly delighted at the realistic beautiful picture she drew of the Holy Land. The larger aspect of the story, the unpleasant one, while familiar and almost habitual, was surprisingly hard for me to read about. Being surrounded by these events and living them daily, is much easier than being confronted with them thus, with "facts" put into the right order easily, but no suitable "actions" on the ground.

Sadly, many people today see Palestine as this century's Atlantis, an illusionary military spot lost in the folds of Israel's existence. Some even avoid any information that might enlighten them about the reality of the situation here. Fast Times in Palestine could be a perfect first read for those, due to its frankness, honesty in relating all, and this combination of personal emotions and humane compassion merged together to bring out the best in this country, its people, and as I felt in the author herself.

One of the most influential books I've read this year, and a definitely must-read. Thanks Wendy for the great recommendation!
913 reviews389 followers
August 10, 2016
I think it’s important to be aware of what this book is and what this book is not.

This book is a memoir, one which frequently veers into polemic. Pamela Olson decided to backpack in the Middle East after college. She ended up in a Palestinian town called Jayyous. She was warmly embraced by several Jayyous residents and inspired to return later on, this time to Ramallah, to volunteer and advocate for the Palestinian cause. A large part of this book is basically “Eat Pray Love” set in Palestine. I enjoyed “Eat Pray Love” as the story of a woman’s journey. I have no illusions about “Eat Pray Love” having educated me about Italians, Indians, or Indonesians.

This book is not, as some Amazon and other online reviewers claim, a “great understanding of Palestine,” a “truly informative work,” or an “important look into the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” In order for a book to provide the reader with great understanding, or to be informative, the book would need to present a far more nuanced view of both sides of this conflict. The view Pamela presents is black and white. Perhaps this is excusable if we view the book as a memoir. Pamela is certainly entitled to her memories and her perspective. It’s problematic, though, to take this book as anything more than a personal and highly polemical account of one woman’s selective experiences.

Pamela’s perspective is painfully clear when she describes a new Israeli settlement: “It looked like something out of colonial Africa – people of European descent living on islands of red-roofed suburbia on land belonging to someone else…” This is a rather loaded and evocative metaphor. If you remember to read the book as a polemical memoir, you can keep statements like this in perspective and respect the fact that this was the image the settlement evoked for Pamela. You can view this image as serving a poetic purpose and providing insight into Pamela’s frame of mind. If you’re reading the book as something which is meant to educate the reader, though, you may forget to be sensitive to the possibility that your view can be subtly manipulated by such metaphors and their associations.

Every Israeli soldier in this book is cruelly and gratuitously aggressive, unless they’re lazy or incompetent. For the one or two decent Israeli citizens we meet, for example a sympathetic friend of Pamela’s who decides to visit Jayyous and is moved by what he sees, there are tens or hundreds of reports of Israeli violence in the book, many of which are informal and originate in uncorroborated word of mouth* (incidentally, Pamela’s Arabic is initially limited and she often relies on translators when she is first forming her impressions).

Mention of Palestinian violence is remarkably scant by comparison. One sentence reads: “[Hamas] carried out their first violent attack in 1989 targeting soldiers and settlements.” This sentence is immediately followed by a highly detailed paragraph about Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein’s attack in a mosque, specifying the numbers of wounded and dead and noting that the Hebron settlers erected a monument in Goldstein’s honor. Putting aside the clearly uneven emphasis here, I lived in Israel for six years and visited Hebron multiple times; this is the first I am hearing of this monument. Perhaps it exists; I don’t know. What I can tell you with certainty is that the Israeli response to Baruch Goldstein was far from monolithic. It is grossly misleading to report on this alleged monument in isolation, as if it fairly represents the normative Israeli reaction to this incident. When news channels showed footage of Palestinians singing and dancing to celebrate 9/11, they were criticized. Using an alleged monument celebrating Baruch Goldstein as the sole representative of Israeli views belongs in the same category of inflammatory reporting.

Another online reviewer makes a related claim: “Olson's focus is overwhelmingly on Palestine's moderates and Israel's extremists…” On Amazon, Olson responds: “Many of my experiences with Israeli families and peace activists did have to be left out for reasons of length… I had to choose a focus for my first book, and that was the under-represented perspective of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.” In other words, Olson acknowledges that she is only sharing one perspective and omitting others. Fair enough, especially if we judge this book by the standards of a polemical memoir which does not claim to offer an objective truth or be educational. But in that case, the “informative” nature of this book is sharply limited. It would behoove readers to be conscious of this and read it accordingly.

Go ahead and enjoy “Fast Times in Palestine” as the readable story of a woman’s journey and of the people she meets. Have no illusions that it will, or should, greatly inform your views of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

*As the book progresses, Olson gradually begins to increase her use of footnotes when accusing Israel of violent behavior. This can lead the reader to overlook or forget that many of her more damning claims in the book are not footnoted. Additionally, several of her footnotes cite “Betselem,” an organization which has been accused of misleading and inaccurate reporting. Other footnotes criticizing Israel cite “Haaretz,” an Israeli newspaper which frequently attacks Israel’s behavior. It’s noteworthy that both Betselem and Haaretz, which in combination represent a large proportion of Olson’s cited source material vilifying Israeli behavior, are Israeli organizations. I would be curious to read accounts of Palestinian self-criticism from Palestinian sources. But in presenting the Palestinian view, Olson does not share dissenting Palestinian voices or Palestinian self-criticism. This is yet another reason this should be read as a polemical memoir rather than an educational piece of journalism; even the Palestinian viewpoint which Olson does claim to represent is presented in a limited and unnuanced fashion.
Profile Image for Wendy.
181 reviews7 followers
December 13, 2011
I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to let it all settle and sink in before I reviewed it and gave it a rating. As you can see, I gave it 5-stars. I probably would have given it 4-stars, but I had the opportunity to discuss the book with the author in an on-line discussion thread and that is definitely worth an additional star :-)

As for the book, it is a moving and compelling story of Pamela's experiences in the West Bank. I felt like I could really relate to her reactions. The stories she shares about the people and places she came to love were related in a very engaging manner. I also appreciated the fact that even though what was being shared was tragic and sad, Pamela somehow managed to maintain a note of optimism and hope for the Palestinian people. She definitely painted a wonderful picture of a vibrant community that we don't have the opportunity to see here in the U.S. I loved the way she talked abou the food -- it made me really hungry just reading about it :-)

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in learning more about the situation that exists in Israel/Palestine. I definitely learned a great deal and thought it was well worth the read. I am very much looking forward to the sequel and hearing more about Pamela's experiences.
Profile Image for Kate Raphael.
Author 5 books69 followers
April 2, 2013
I started out skeptically because the author went to Palestine not knowing anything, and I thought, Okay, three years ago you knew nothing and now you're a best-selling author on an issue I've worked on for half my life. And probably getting better known than fabulous Palestinian memoirists like Ghada Karmi and Raja Shehadeh.

But once I started reading it -- which I did because Seal Press sent it to me and suggested I interview Pamela, which I did on Monday's show -- I found it really fun and poignant and can really see how it will work to engage a mainstream U.S. audience. I can hardly be snotty about that because that's what I'm hoping my mysteries will do someday, though I have to admit, Pamela Olson is more the type of character that American audiences relate to than my characters.

Also, for more knowledgeable readers, she brings a unique and interesting lens to internal Palestinian politics because she spent her last year there coordinating foreign press for Dr. Mustafa Barghouti's presidential campaign. So it gives an insider's view of some issues that are rarely discussed publicly in this country, for fear of heightening the image of Palestinians who just can't get along with anyone - including each other, which our media loves to promote. But her account, while a little "down and dirty" doesn't feed into that stereotype, it just makes clear that Palestinian politics are as fraught and complex as those of any other country, especially since they're evolving within the context of occupation.

I recommend it.
Profile Image for E.
1,113 reviews39 followers
June 16, 2011
I met the author at BEA, and her memoir is fascinating. An unexpected, unlikely love letter to Palestine. It will invite comparisons to Eat, Pray, Love, I imagine. But Fast Times in Palestine is funnier, more interesting, and more levelheaded in a way I appreciate.
Profile Image for Dorothy.
10 reviews2 followers
January 26, 2012
One evening I was browsing the Top 100 List of Kindle books on Amazon, and this book was included with the free books in that list. It seemed interesting, so I chose it. My hope was that it would be a travel log of sorts with interesting tales of the people living in the Middle East. It delivered.

The travel log aspects of the book were very interesting. The author does a nice job of describing the sites and scenery. Her stories of the people she met while traveling to see the sites - some typical tourist locations and some not - were fascinating.

Many times I found myself hoping she would include more about this person or that, but one realizes that this is non-fiction. It comes with limitations on what information can be gathered on a person due to time constraints. Also, when meeting someone while traveling, there is only so much a stranger is willing to share. Overall, it is easy to be drawn to many of the people she met on her journeys.

The descriptions given of the area sends the reader on an emotional rollercoaster. There were times when I fell in love with the beauty of the area and thought to myself that it would be wonderful to visit there and experience the beauty myself. The next moment it was so horrifying that I could not even fathom going there. Going back and forth from being drawn to the area and being repelled happens frequently in the book.

There are political aspects of the book, as one would assume. I am not an expert on the Palestine/Israeli conflict, so I have little to say that wouldn't be foolish one way or the other due to my lack of education. I'll leave that to those who have studied it extensively. Because the author was living in Palestine, her experience is the Palestine experience. However, she does include a lot of the tragedy that falls upon the Israeli population due to the conflict as well.

If I want to gain an objective opinion of what happens on a regular basis in that area of the Middle East, I would read this book and one from someone having visited or lived in Israel for an extended time. From both books giving both viewpoints, perhaps I could gather a somewhat objective view, even if that was possible. Considering that it is unlikely that I will ever visit, reading accounts is all that I can do.

Overall, I loved the travel log aspects of the book. The people were fascinating. I learned quite a bit that I did not know about the culture of the Middle East. It sounds beautiful. It's a shame that the treasured Holy Land and sites are under such turmoil. All I can do is pray for peace for all sides. Maybe it is impossible, but one can hope.
Profile Image for Alexander McNabb.
Author 9 books49 followers
May 20, 2012
I nearly did a Dorothy Parker with this book and I'm very glad I didn't. It starts with callow tourist Pamela 'doing' the Middle East and the silly Yank Abroad act nearly did for me. I persevered and it turns out that Pamela Olson was using her own initial inexperience to draw us in and take us by the hand on her journey of discovery through Palestine as she becomes embroiled in Palestinian political campaigning.

This is a wonderful book. It is human, well-written, appalled, compassionate, questing, surprising and overall very enjoyable indeed. It's not preachy, it's not over-dramatic but manages to make its point hit home all the harder for the pragmatic and balanced voice of its author.

A very, very good read indeed. I'm only sorry it took me so long to write a review...
Profile Image for Holly S..
Author 1 book43 followers
January 27, 2012
I've spent a lot of time in Palestine & I've read a lot of books on the topic. I wondered if this book had something new to offer... Turns out it did. I found Fast Times in Palestine to be authetic, funny, tragic and well-documented. Most of all, it was readable. Sometimes it's hard to swallow all the tradegies of the West Bank & Gaza. However, this book kept me turning pages on the kindle. I recommend it to anyone interested in Palestine or travel memoir.
Profile Image for Leslie.
9 reviews2 followers
August 25, 2016
This wasn't what I was expecting. When I purchased it, I didn't read the description closely enough and thought I was getting a novel. When I sat down to read it and realized my mistake, I decided to give it a chance anyway and I am so glad I did. I was hooked right away. It's a memoir that reads like a novel. I could vividly picture the land she was seeing and the people she was talking to....and the horrors she was experiencing. This was so eye opening. It put a face to the crimes of humanity that have been occurring over in the middle east. It's more than war and politics, it's PEOPLE. We are so sheltered here in the US and take so much for granted.

I cannot fathom living in a place where the sound of gunfire in the background is so common, you don't even flinch anymore. Where you can't just drive across a state line to visit your loved ones. Where you are constantly in fear of losing someone you care about. Where you have to deal with such heavy oppression on a daily basis. Despite all of that, the people Pamela encountered sound so beautifully gracious and faithful. I can see why she felt compelled to return to them.

I have seen pictures of this region from friends of mine that traveled there years ago....before the walls and settlements and razor wire. What a shame for a beautiful land to have been so marred. I hope and pray that one day peace and beauty will return there.

Thank you for having the courage to share your experiences and for opening my eyes to the things that we DON'T read in the news or see on T.V. I'm ashamed that I was so ignorant about what is going on over there. I look forward to more!
Profile Image for Nigel.
1 review
July 10, 2012
I lived in Ramallah for 4 years in the time just before Pamela got there. The book is a classic recounting of what it's like to travel to Palestine and live there as a foreigner, as the Israeli military occupation slowly reveals itself to you. This book is amazing on many levels.
Profile Image for Ghada Arafat.
57 reviews32 followers
September 16, 2011
A must read to anyone who wants to know about the daily life in Palestine and the general political situation. A brave, true, and heart taking book.
Profile Image for Sam Sattler.
967 reviews40 followers
August 21, 2013
In a lot of ways, Pamela Olson's Fast Times in Palestine is an eye-opener. No doubt about it. The stories she tells about the wonderful people she met and the beautiful experiences she had there are unarguably heartwarming - and heartbreaking. They are similar to what I experienced during my years in Algeria. Olson's memoir further proves to me that, given half a chance, people are capable of forming lasting friendships and bonds so long as they are willing to see each other as fellow human beings rather than as representatives of their respective governments.

As I learned on September 11, 2001, however, not everyone is capable of doing that. I saw Algerians crying because of my shock and pain and I saw Algerians openly laughing and celebrating the tragedy of that day. But I saw an even higher percentage of my French co-workers smiling and joking about the same thing. What does that prove? Only that people are people and that politics makes many of them incapable of seeing the bigger picture. But not all of them.

Pamela Olson saw things in Palestine I never suspected existed there: a thriving business community; nightlife that includes ready access to alcohol; weddings at which any inhibitions regarding dress and partying are abandoned at the door; and nice restaurants, among them. She also tells of many of the things I expected to read about: Palestinian families with members maimed or killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time; Palestinians whose homes have been purposely turned into rubble by the Israeli military; and families whose very livelihood is threatened because their centuries-old olive groves are now on the wrong side of a security fence erected by the Israelis (tragically, hundreds of the ancient trees have been destroyed in the name of security or settlement).

My only complaint about Fast Times in Palestine, and I consider it more to be pointing out what I see as a flaw rather than complaining, is that Olson's focus is overwhelmingly on Palestine's moderates and Israel's extremists - not to say that there are not plenty of each, because there certainly are. I will long remember some of the wonderful Palestinian families to whom she introduces the reader. I do believe that Israel is very heavy-handed at times in its approach to co-existing with Palestine, and Olson certainly puts a human face on those suffering the consequences. But I also believe that Israel is home to many moderates who are simply trying to raise their families and get on with their own lives. I would love to see the author spend some time with those people and tell their stories as well. What is happening in Palestine is a tragedy and, while Fast Times in Palestine adds to the dialogue, there is definitely room for another book here.
Profile Image for Sacramento Public Library.
374 reviews62 followers
June 25, 2014
Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland by Pamela J. Olson is a gut-wrenching, intimate true recounting of the almost accidental arrival of Pamela in Palestine with eye-opening accounts of daily life for her and the friends she makes. These include Israelis and Arabs. She falls in love with one Palestinian whose family life is almost wrecked by the wall Israel erects that separates their olive orchard (and economic sustenance) from their home. Pamela is faced with very difficult choices. She works hard at being objective and fair and understanding about circumstances between Israel and Palestine. She experiences bombings, death and destruction and shares her experience as if it is happening that moment, so you live it with her. I highly recommend this book for deepening understanding about life both in Israel and Palestine. It includes house parties, concerts, barbecues, lots of drama and amazing insights. Pamela packs a lot into these 301 pages.— Jill Stockinger
Profile Image for Paddy O'callaghan.
249 reviews67 followers
January 27, 2014

Pamela Olson's memoir of the time she spent living in Palestine is absolutely essential reading as both a travelogue and an account of the lives people in the occupied Palestinian territories are leading. It is very even-handed in it's treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and, although entirely unpretentious and very accessible, beautifully written. It is sure to be enjoyed by all, especially fans Michelle Cohen Corasanti's The Almond Tree.
Profile Image for Tommy Hughes.
13 reviews1 follower
June 22, 2015
I loved this book, very well written. Having lived in the GCC for seven years I wanted a book that would be readable, but also give great insight into the situation in Palestine. I would highly recommend this book!
47 reviews
July 20, 2017
This book descends quickly into a mawkish listing of grievances against the Israeli occupation, to the detriment of providing the reader with a full insight into her life during a year-and-a-half in Palestine. To her credit, Olson backs her charges with footnoted references, and I don't doubt for a minute the facts of the circumstances she relates. But the tone of her writing is so melodramatic that it just didn't resonate with me. The book improves as it progresses and her description of her time as press officer to a Palestinian presidential candidate finally piqued my interest. I also enjoyed the concluding pages, in which she considers the broader philosophical questions of our inhumanity towards each other that were raised by her experiences. Overall, a worthy read.
Profile Image for Angela.
8 reviews
September 30, 2018
Very important book!! Extremely eye-opening and honest, describing the truth of a situation we are not informed of in the Western world.
Profile Image for Philippa.
50 reviews25 followers
April 26, 2013
Wow, just wow. I need to gather my thoughts before I can even contemplate writing a review to do this book justice.

Review originally posted at http://eatreadexplore.wordpress.com

Over the years I've read quite a few books about Israel and Palestine, but this one is unlike anything I've ever read before. I knew that this book was about someone's personal account of life in Palestine, but I had no idea that Olson hadn't specifically intended to go to Palestine. She went backpacking in the Middle East and happened to come across some people who invited her to come along to Israel with them, and took her with them to Palestine after that. The fact that the Middle East was a relatively unknown region to Olson before she started out on her journey is actually really nice, especially for people reading this novel who don't know much about it either, because you gradually discover more and more about the region and Israel and Palestine in particular.

The best thing about this book, in my opinion, are the personal accounts of the people she meets during her time in Palestine. Here in the West we get so much information thrown at us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but there is nothing we can directly empathise with. By recording people's personal accounts and allowing us a brief glimpse into their personal lives, it brings the conflict much closer to home. Olson shows that Palestinians are just ordinary human beings who try to go about their normal life as much as they possibly can in spite of all the restrictions imposed by the Israeli government.

The author tries to illustrate the injustices in the region the best she can, and she does so from a fairly objective point of view. It is very easy for a casual observer to generalise a situation and condemn only one of the parties involved, but Olson manages to depict everyone she encountered as human beings, Palestinians and Israelis alike, which is exactly where the power of this book lies. There is no doubt about the fact that Israel is the oppressor in this conflict and Palestine the oppressed, but that does not mean that Israel and all of its inhabitants are the source of all evil, which is how they are often depicted by pro Palestinians. The same goes for the general image of Palestinians in the media. Very often they are either depicted as victims of a great injustice, or as terrorists. The author shows that there are good and bad people on both sides, and also tries to understand and explain why certain people are drawn to certain courses of action. She doesn't just depict the Palestinians as a poor, homeless people with no prospect, but rather as a multitude of people with hopes and dreams, and with very diverse expectations of life. Olson gives a voice to people who would normally be ignored by the general media, to show that there are many Palestinians who condemn suicide bombers, and there are many Israelis who oppose the settlements in Gaza and on the West Bank, just to name a few examples.

The way in which the book is written, as a kind of travelogue, works really well. Together with the author we gradually peel back the layers of society and of the conflict, and it makes reading the book really exciting because it almost feels as if you are there with her. Olson also manages to strike the right balance between the more light hearted moments of her time in Palestine, such as accounts of helping families with the harvest, enjoying dinners with a large variety of people, and sightseeing, and the more shocking and depressing moments when talking about the many civilian casualties, people being robbed of their land, and tragedies at the various Israeli checkpoints. This way the book offers a perspective that is neither too positive nor too depressing or pessimistic either. It shows how strong human spirit actually is, and that people can manage to retain a degree of optimism even in the most dire of circumstances.

I think this is a must-read for anyone who is remotely interested in the Middle East and who wants to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but doesn't want to read a dry text packed with statistics and facts. This book does occasionally contain some statistics to back up arguments, but it is a lively and beautifully written account of a young woman whose life took some truly unexpected turns. It is an engaging and thought provoking book, and I definitely think everyone should read it.
Profile Image for Gary.
933 reviews198 followers
June 4, 2016
The author went from being a rootless bartender to being a top journalist and adviser to a top Palestinians 'presidential candidate'
Sounds like her sewing of hatred and agitprop certainly had something in it for her
At the end of the day what she has done is jumped on the burn Israel bandwagon to create a lucrative career while venting her spleen on anti-Israel hatred at the same time, like so many other thoughtless robots on the anti-Western, anti-Israel post modern left

The anti-Israel propagandists aim is to make Israel so hated in the world that the genocide of millions of Israeli men, women and children will be welcomed - in otherwords give a dog a bad name and then you hang him
The purpose of all of this is preparing the world for a second holocaust

Interesting that this 'author ' did not refer to what Israelis have been through at the hands of her friends in the Hamas . Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Islamic Jihad but then its not fashionable or pc to regard Israeli as humans entitled to human rights.

In March 2008 Arab terrorists murdered eight young Jewish seminary students at study of the Torah.
Shortly after this a survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Media Research revealed that 84% of Palestinians supported the attack!
Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch points out that the leaders of the propaganda for Hamas and Palestinian Authority TV (with their televised sermons, cartoons, comic books and school books) have constructed a machine to incite mass murder similar to that of the Hutu journalists who spearheaded the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. "The Islamic refers to Jews as the sons of pigs and monkeys to be exterminated just as Hutu supremacists spoke of Tutsis as 'serpents' to be crushed.
Hamas and Hezbollah, two of the terrorist organizations that work for the physical annihilation of Israel describe Jews as 'pigs', 'cancer'. 'garbage',germs' 'parasites' and 'microbes'.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in continually vowing to '"wipe Israel off the map" for which he is building a vast nuclear arsenal without the world or the Obama administration lifting a finger to stop him, uses the expression 'dead rats'
Not only do the rabid anti-Zionists who boycott and demonize Israel display gross and racist anti-Semitism , but they also responsible to a large extent for terror against Israeli women and children.
This is because Moral denigration encourages physical elimination
It is entirely in keeping in the character of Islamists or rabidly leftist anti-Zionists that they should carry a rabid hatred of Israel to the point of defending the killers of Israeli children.
There is certainly.
The mainstream and left-wing world media are also extremely culpable for fomenting mass killing of Jewish men, women and children in Israel.
As Claude Lanzmann director of the monumental film Shoah wrote "When 'settlers'
were killed it was intolerable to read in the newspapers stuck in a corner of the page 'settler women killed' or worse 'settler child strangled' as if the twofold stigma of Jew and settler made the murder understandable, justified it and dismissed it from our attention".
This book carries the stories of the victims.
Thousands of Israeli Jewish men, women and children have died from bombs, bullets or knife attacks, and thousands of others have been maimed, blinded, orphaned, widowed and terrorized.
Profile Image for Evelyn.
648 reviews56 followers
December 5, 2011
An extraordinary memoir of the author's time in Palestine, which reads like a part-diary, part-history, part-political, part- travel survival guide. Like many in the West, I've been largely oblivious to the horrors of what goes on in the 'Occupied Territories' and this book tells it like it is, warts and all. To live under such oppression and violence is unimaginable for me, but this book illustrates it quite clearly in a way that anyone can relate and understand to some degree. Fast Times In Palestine is obviously a difficult and highly emotional book to read and there were countless times where I could only read a few pages at a time and I had to put it down. Reading accounts of mindless shootings of children by Israeli soldiers, women being forced to give birth at checkpoints because some soldier just felt like not letting them through, the house raids, bombings, the ever present and ominous Wall, livelihoods and futures being destroyed, it all takes it toll but it's an important account that needs to be read by as many people as possible.

As well as the simply atrocious things that happen and continue to happen, the book also illustrates the kindness, the hospitality and the sheer will to carry on living a normal life, by the Palestinians. With this, we are also greeted with descriptions of beautiful surroundings and delicious food.

I would recommend this book as a starting point to anyone interested in Palestine. I only hope that one day the Palestinian people will have the freedom that we in the West take for granted. #peaceforpalestine
Profile Image for Kevin Pedersen.
189 reviews3 followers
May 27, 2015
It's not the final word in the story of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but it shows a side of the story that doesn't get told a whole lot, especially in America. While the root causes of the tension can be debated for years (has anyone ever debated that before?) this focuses on the smaller, human cost of an occupation -- the people stopped at a checkpoint who can't get to a wedding, the pregnant women afraid to cross a border to get to a hospital, the movie nights cancelled because a projector looked suspicious.

The growth of the author over the course of the memoir is pretty impressive, as she goes from a sort-of-shallow backpacker to a really informed and passionate expat who has experienced a hell of a lot more political crisis than I ever have. At one particularly telling point, she is disturbed to find herself getting inadvertently radicalized as she reads about a suicide bombing and briefly considers that the victims deserved it. Later, she meets the family of another suicide bomber and gets a good sense of why someone might do something like that -- spoiler alert, it's not because they are evil and hate freedom. (Related note: Bush gets a name-check as a dummy who made everything worse, because of course he did.)

It's hard to read this without getting angry, and then thinking that maybe your anger is misplaced, and then thinking that maybe it's not. And I think that's what this is really about, in the end... when you zoom in close on a big conflict like this, you get a lot of really personal messes.
120 reviews4 followers
October 26, 2011
I received this book from the GoodReads FirstReads GiveAway. I really enjoyed this book, although it does cover a tough and hard to take topic. Olson tells the story of her time volunteering and working in Palestine, her time in cities and villages, at holy sites, harvesting olives, working on a political campaign, getting through checkpoints, talking with people from all sides. For me it really helped put in perspective how awful the situation there truly is (the book is well footnoted, if you want to check her sources). She documents the feeling of loving a place, but not being of the place, of always knowing you can leave, enjoy a day at the beach and a freedom from fear, while knowing that those around can not.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more about what is happening in Palestine. For anyone just out of college, struggling to find their place in the world, and wanting to make a difference, this book will open your eyes to the possibilities out there.
Profile Image for Marianna.
675 reviews17 followers
November 8, 2013
This book should become mandatory reading in every high school in The United States! I've always found it unfathomable that Americans are so fundamentally unable to see the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through any lens other than the one that sanctifies Israel and categorically vilifies Palestine and her people. Pam Olson does a wonderful job of humanizing a people that our media has dehumanized to the point of caricature. There are two sides to every story. This is the Palestinian story.

The major take away from Ms. Olson's story is that the conflict in this region is not about religion. It's is so much more complicated than that. I also kept thinking about how politics in this region and what has been done to the people of Palestine play such an integral role in the current hatred towards the American government in this region.
Profile Image for Mona.
176 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2013
What an eye-opener. I kept wondering what would change in our current foreign policy if every lawmaker would read Fast Times in Palestine. I've read quite a few books about "the situation" and have traveled in Israel twice, but didn't quite get my thinking straight until reading this. My acceptance of the way it is has been tested. We are the country supplying the funds for what is happening to the Palestinians. Ultimately we are responsible for allowing 600 year old olive trees being callously cut down, children sitting in school desks being shot dead, and families torn apart and losing their land and homes.
30 reviews1 follower
July 31, 2018
I have to strongly disagree with the negative comments about this book. Ramallah is my home town, my family's heritage dates back several hundred years. This book tells a story about just a few of the atrocities that have happened to my people by the Israelis. Not enough is being said about Palestinian lives and how it compares to the apartheid movement in South Africa. I'm glad she wrote this book, and hopefully more people will read it to get a glimpse of an objective observer.
Profile Image for Angela.
17 reviews8 followers
January 1, 2012
This book was a real eye opener for me. This is Pamela Olsens personal account of her time in Palestine. The book gives a voice and humanity to the Palestinians without being political. It also gives you a lot a background about the area itself. It is a perfect book for those who want to learn more about the Palestine people and their plight, which is seldom heard in mainstream media.
Profile Image for Joshua.
161 reviews1 follower
March 5, 2012
This book surprised me. At first I thought the author was some tree-hugging liberal loon, but throughout the book she showed a rational mind, and wrote an interesting story about life in Palestine. I'll credit this book for changing my stance on the entire Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is a really different story from the view looking from behind the Security fence.
Profile Image for Tom Milton.
Author 22 books65 followers
October 5, 2011
An eye opener. I recommend it to everyone who would like to understand what's happening in that part of the world.
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