You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2012.

I’m moving to Turkey pretty soon. Hopefully only for a month or two. But first I have three weeks of travel here in the US.

This weekend, September 21-23, I’ll be at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation 11th Annual Organizers’ Conference in St. Louis, MO, speaking about the Israel Lobby along with Jeff Blankfort and Alison Weir.

Next weekend, September 28-29, is the Sabeel conference in Albuquerque, where I’ll be speaking along with Iris Keltz (author of Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie and a forthcoming book about her adventures in Palestine during the Six Day War) about Retelling History through Personal Narrative.

The weekend after that is my ten-year college reunion at Stanford, where I’ll be speaking on a panel about non-traditional career paths as well as an event featuring Stanford authors. After that I’ll visit friends in San Francisco and Marin, then I’ll have some meetings with my publisher, editor, and publicist at the Seal Press headquarters in Berkeley.

It’d be great to see you somewhere along the road.

After all that, I’ll be heading to Istanbul to be with my boyfriend, who is stuck in Turkey while the US consulate takes its sweet time processing what should have been a routine work visa extension. Instead of taking two days, as expected, they said it would take between one and six months to process due to an unfortunate coincidence that has nothing to do with my boyfriend.

Luckily his work has an office in Istanbul, so he can work while he waits, and also luckily I’m here to move all our things into storage before our lease is up on October 1. Otherwise this inconvenience could have been a disaster. But honestly, I’m excited to be traveling to Turkey and meeting Ahmed’s family. I just hope it’ll be one or two months, and not six.

Finally, I’m raising money for Rania again. (See my previous post if you don’t know the story.) I sent out an appeal last week and raised almost $500. I’ll need another $2,500 to keep supporting her for another the year. Absolutely anything, even $5, adds up quickly and is so incredibly appreciated.

Here are the various ways to donate:

    • My Paypal email is

    • I can send you an invoice via Paypal, which you can pay with any major credit card

    • Email me for details about how to send a check (pamolson @ gmail)

    • If you’d prefer to send the money directly to her via Western Union, I can send instructions how to do it — it’s very easy

THANK YOU, and Happy Pumpkin Season!


Many people have asked me how Rania and her family have been doing this year. (Here’s the backstory on Rania, if you’re unfamiliar with it.)

Thanks to your generosity, she was able to finish her house, so the family no longer has to fear homelessness. I can’t describe what a joy it is for them. Having a home, a space of privacy and dignity, is priceless for a Palestinian family. Your help has been a powerful answer to the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes.

Karim doing advanced math

Amoura (Princess) Lusan

Meanwhile Rania has continued and intensified her social work in Tulkarem. Her big project for the summer was organizing a summer camp for children, especially kids from refugee camps. But there was a twist: She also invited their mothers to some of the activities, including picnics and a day of playing in an amusement park.

Rania said they were amazed, because it was the first time anyone had included them in something like that. They were also given free counseling sessions, and many said it was the first time anyone had allowed them to express their feelings and cry.

Mothers in Palestine have to keep the family together more than anyone. The society would quickly collapse without their strength. But there’s little space for them to break down or show emotion. They can do so at funerals, but death is only the tip of the iceberg of what occupation means for Palestinian families. Day to day they feel they have to remain composed, even when their heart is breaking. Rania said she would do what she could to continue providing these services to the people who need them.

Activities for the kids included counseling, art, drama, playing, swimming, and education about human rights and international law.

One ten-year-old boy came up to her after a workshop on human rights and said angrily, “You give us exercises and let us play, and you say nice words about international law, but we still don’t have human rights. You should be honest about this.”

Kids aren’t stupid. They know what they see.

She was taken aback, but she said, “I understand, I feel with your anger. God willing, one day we will have human rights.”

It’s a terrible thing to have to say to a ten-year-old. But it’s good to give them forums in which they can learn what they’re missing and vent about their pent-up feelings, so that hopefully one day they will be more effective in the struggle to implement their rights.

Rania is still trying, of course, to find paid employment or secure funding for her organization, and she came close once. She was considered for a position doing what she loves to do, and being paid fairly for it. But in the end they chose someone with a couple more years’ experience than she had. She was incredibly disappointed, but it shows she’s on the right track.

It also shows what a failure the Palestinian Authority is, spending its limited, donated money on speculative building in Ramallah and “security” forces while Israel continues to build settlements and exploit Palestinian resources while squeezing the natural Palestinian economy almost into nonexistence, and settlers continue to desecrate mosques and churches and attack innocent Palestinians with almost total impunity.

The last time I wrote to you about Rania was in November. I requested a lot from you then. $950 to break even in 2011 and $4,000 to finish building her house. Astonishingly, I received all of that plus enough to continue supporting the family through August 2012.

It’s September 2012 now, and I’ve sent the family $300 for this month as my contribution. I’m aiming to continue funding her for another year. It doesn’t take a lot. Just a bit over $3,000. If just 300 people could be so generous as to donate $10 each, we’ll be covered until next September.

As always, a gift of support is not just helping Rania. It’s also helping her beautiful children (one of whom is starting school this year!) and the dozens — probably hundreds by now — of people Rania helps with her work. It’s an investment that is guaranteed to grow many times over. You can’t say that about many investments these days. Even gifts of $5 add up quickly and are immensely appreciated.

Here are the various ways to donate:

    • My Paypal email is

    • I can send you an invoice via Paypal, which you can pay with any major credit card

    • Email me for details about how to send a check (pamolson @ gmail)

    • If you’d prefer to send the money directly to her via Western Union, I can send instructions how to do it — it’s very easy

Thank you a thousand times for reading, and for any help you can give, and for everything you’ve done already. I couldn’t have done it alone, but together we’ve done something amazing for two smart and funny kids and all the people helped by one extraordinary Palestinian woman.

Fundraising and donating aren’t nearly as hard as raising two kids while trying to be a rock for a society under brutal, strangling occupation. But the one makes the other possible, and it’s an honor to be a small part of it.

Thank you and all my best!



Intent on their art

Super sweetheart

Big brother getting ready for school!

P.S. As for me, I just got back from my little sister’s wedding in San Jose, which was a lot of fun. Meanwhile the book has been edited down to 96,000 words (from 120,000), and for the most part I’m happy with the cuts. It will mean a lighter, less-expensive book, and anyone who has interest will be able go to my blog and read the omitted parts. We’re still working on the cover design, and if you want to see a few mock-ups I threw together using an image my publisher and I both like, you can see them here.

UPDATE: School pics!

My book

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Many thanks.

Books I Love

A Doctor in Galilee,
by Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh

The Hour of Sunlight, by Sami al Jundi and Jen Marlowe

The Goldstone Report, edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and Philip Weiss

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe

Zabelle, by Nancy Kricorian

Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

Impro, by Keith Johnstone

Improv Wisdom,
by Patricia Ryan Madson

Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau

To Kill a Mockingbird,
50th Anniversary Edition,
by Harper Lee