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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Pamela Olson gives talk on “Fast Times in Palestine”

(Katherine Mayo/Collegian)
(Katherine Mayo/Collegian)

Author Pamela Olson gave a talk in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall on Tuesday night to discuss her book, “Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland”.

The event was hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine and coordinated by UMass’ Leila Aruri. It featured a narrative slideshow, a Q&A session, and book signing.

“I was out of college and I decided to visit the Middle East in 2003. The Iraq war was still going on and I was sitting in a café, in Jordan, with a bunch of other journalists. I was talking about maybe going to Baghdad in Iraq,” Olson explained.

At the advice of journalists, who had just returned from Iraq, Olson chose to travel to Palestine.

Following what she described as her “tantalizing interest in Palestine,” Olson decided to move to the Palestinian city of Ramallah, where she lived for the next two years.

During her time there, she served as the head writer of the newspaper “The Palestinian Monitor.”

She also served as the foreign press coordinator for Dr. Mustafa Barghouti during his bid for the Palestinian presidency in 2005.

Olson showed images in a slideshow of the lush Palestinian landscape, dotted with olive trees, apricots, almonds and water. She showed deep valleys of the Sinai into the heart of Palestinian landscape.

“I like to show the beauty and especially the people of Palestine. Oftentimes, because of the news, we forget that they are people.”

She then proceeded to display the urban life of Palestine, providing an insight into the culture of a place like Ramallah. The images displayed a hub of commerce and culture: streets lined with markets, multicolored dress and a vibrant artistic life.

“I always show these images before talking about, you know, the occupation.” Olson explained.

In the slides that followed, Olson described the grim reality of what she described as “the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

“You have about 500 checkpoints and roadblocks that cut through the heart of Palestinian land. This land, continuously being built on by ‘legal’ Israeli settlements, is getting carved up,” Olson said.

According to Olson, many Israelis living in settlements drive directly past what she describes as “a prison wall” encircling Palestinians.

Olson traced the roots of this conflict and occupation back to the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947. Mandated by the U.N., this granted Israelis the right to own land that was previously considered Palestinian. The plan fell through in 1948 amidst Arab backlash.

In 2016, over half century a later, the conflict remains unresolved as many Palestinians still live under Israeli authority. However, according to Olson, “many, barely any, are granted the same rights as Israeli citizens.”

“I remember these three children. Iman al Hams, Raghda al-Assar and Ghadeer Jaber Mokheimer. They were all killed by Israeli snipers in broad daylight. Two of them in class. No one received any punishment. If they do, it’s minor.”

As a country, Olson elaborated, Palestine has no jurisdictional authority.

“You have a ‘nation’, if you could call it that, completely dependent on Israel. Imports. Exports. Water. Electricity. You name it. The entire economy is dependent, and the authority is lacking as well. They can’t do anything.”

Olson then spoke of the disproportionate conflict between the two sides as she showed pictures of rubble and brick that had once been homes, hospitals and schools.

“These neighborhoods, they are just becoming wastelands,” Olson said.

In discussing possible solutions to the ongoing conflict, familiar proposals were cited: the one-state, two-state and neo-apartheid solutions.

Olson then emphasized the role that the United States had in the region, not as an arbiter of peace, but of conflict: “We need to understand as Americans that Israel could not be allowed to be doing what it is doing without our help.”

Olson cited a number of failed U.N. resolutions that charged Israel with human rights violations. The one country on the U.N. Security Council that had used veto powers against almost every proposed resolution was the United States.

“I would imagine that it is in large part due to domestic politics. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is consistently cited as the largest campaign contributor. It would be very unpopular to talk about the true Palestine.”

In closing her discussion, Olson emphasized the role of student activism on campuses and stressed the need for people to be informed of the Palestinian truth.

“If the Palestinians have anything on their side now, its international law, morality and truth.”

Josh Raposa can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    David Hunt 1990Oct 17, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    @Arafat: You see, when Israelis – modern, civilized people – kill Arabs, it’s a horror. When Arabs kill other Arabs, well, the attitude of the Left is “What do we expect?”

    Thus is the racism and bigotry of low expectations of the Left revealed.

  • A

    ArafatOct 8, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    The “Other” Palestinians
    by Khaled Abu Toameh • August 31, 2016 at 5:00 am
     Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since 2011. But because these Palestinians were killed by Arabs, and not Israelis, this fact is not news in the mainstream media or of interest to “human rights” forums.
     How many Western journalists have cared to inquire about the thirsty Palestinians of Yarmouk refugee camp, in Syria? Does anyone know that this camp has been without water supply for more than 720 days, and without electricity for the past three years? In June 2002, 112,000 Palestinians lived in Yarmouk. By the end of 2014, the population was down to less than 20,000.
     Nor is the alarm bell struck concerning the more than 12,000 Palestinians languishing in Syrian prisons, including 765 children and 543 women. According to Palestinian sources, some 503 Palestinian prisoners have died under torture in recent years, and some female prisoners have been raped by interrogators and guards.
     When Western journalists lavish time on Palestinians delayed at Israeli checkpoints, and ignore bombs dropped by the Syrian military on residential areas, one might start to wonder they are really about.

  • A

    ArafatOct 8, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    While millions of people worldwide are suffering real and extreme persecution at the hands of Islamists, it is Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy — where no one is above the law, where citizens all have equal rights and no one is murdered for expressing his political views — that is targeted and bullied by these so-called “human rights activists” and academics. Deaf and blind to the real sufferers all around the world, these Jew-haters seem in reality just brainwashed, misinformed neo-anti-Semites.

  • C

    City Girl ScarlettOct 8, 2016 at 12:32 am

    J.R. marry me thanks!

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Oct 6, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    And a question: When the “Palestinians” scream “WE WANT YOU DEAD!” just what is there to negotiate?

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Oct 6, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    The group SJP really should be renamed as the “Hamas Terrorist Affiliated Death to Israel and Jews” group.

  • M

    ML/NJOct 5, 2016 at 11:16 am

    How about a look at the “people” of Bethlehem? The Muslim Arabs have plenty of “jurisdictional authority” there. In fact they have so much jurisdictional authority that there are almost no Christians left there. But it’s all sweetness and light according to the Lunatic Left.