You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2013.

Note: This book tour has already been completed. Please be in touch if you’re interested in inviting me to speak this fall (2013). My email address is pamolson (@), and I’m based in New York City.

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ftc2 This is the official schedule for my spring 2013 book tour. You can learn more about the book here and view ways to purchase it here.


Thursday, March 14
Stanford University
Synergy House
6pm (NOP = Not Open to the Public)

Saturday, March 16
Book Passage – Marin
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA
1pm (Join the Facebook event!)

Monday, March 18
Magic, Inc
381 Oxford Avenue
Palo Alto, CA
Dinner at 7:30pm
Event begins at 8pm

Tuesday, March 19
UC Berkeley
Boalt Hall School of Law, Room 295
2745 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA
(enter through the courtyard entrance near the entrance to Simon Hall)

Wednesday, March 20
Dove & Olive Works
178 South Blvd
San Mateo

Wednesday, March 20
Books Inc.
301 Castro St
Mountain View, CA
7pm (Join the Facebook event!)

Thursday, March 21
Books Inc.
601 Van Ness
San Francisco
7pm (Join the Facebook event!)


Monday, March 25
Guest Lecture
World Politics class
St. Mary’s Lounge
University of Portland

Tuesday, March 26
Guest Lecture
Biography and Memoir class
Reed College (NOP)

Wednesday, March 27
Broadway Books
1714 NE Broadway
Portland, OR
7pm (Join the Facebook event!)

Thursday, March 28
Powell’s Books
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR
7:30pm (Join the Facebook event!)


Friday, March 29
Columbia Basin Badger Club
A community forum for civic discourse
Richland, WA


Monday, April 1
Orca Books
509 4th Ave E
Olympia, WA

Tuesday, April 2
University Bookstore
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA

Wednesday, April 3
Village Books
1200 11th Street
Bellingham, WA

Thursday, April 4
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
Smith Hall (SMI), Room 205
6pm (Join the Facebook event!)

Friday, April 5
Elliott Bay Books
1521 Tenth Avenue
Seattle, WA


Tuesday, April 9
Tattered Cover Bookstore
2526 East Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO

( Join the Facebook event! )

Wednesday, April 10
Iliff School of Theology
Fish Bowl

( Join the Facebook event! )

Thursday, April 11
Boulder Bookstore
1107 Pearl St
Boulder, CO

( Join the Facebook event! )

Friday, April 12
UC Boulder
UMC room 353
Boulder, CO

( Join the Facebook event! )


Monday, April 15
Full Circle Books
50 Penn Place
Oklahoma City, OK

Tuesday, April 16
University of Oklahoma
Book reading and signing event
Hosted by Women’s and Gender Studies and Sooners for Peace in Palestine
OU Old Union
Norman, OK

Wednesday, April 17
Oklahoma School of Science and Math
Guest lecture and reading (NOP)
Oklahoma City, OK

Thursday, April 18
Seminole State College
Guest lecture and reading (NOP)
Seminole, OK


Monday, April 22
Rutgers University (Newark)
Hill Hall 102 (first floor)
11:30am (free period; lunch provided)

Join the Facebook event!

Tuesday, April 23
Writing Palestine — Workshop with Pamela Olson
Princeton University
Mathey Private Dining Room, Rockefeller Residential College/Madison Hall (map)

Wednesday, April 24
Barnes & Noble
Upper West Side
2289 Broadway
New York, NY

Thursday, April 25
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA
Weigley Room on the 9th floor of Gladfelter Hall
2-4pm — Join the Facebook event!

Sunday, April 28
Revolution Books
146 W 26th St
(between 6 & 7 Ave)
New York, NY

Monday, April 29
New School
Room D-1009
6 E 16th St
New York, NY
6:30pm — Join the Facebook event!

Wednesday, May 1
Brown University Bookstore
244 Thayer Street
Providence, RI

Thursday, May 2
Fitchburg State University
Ellis White Lecture Hall, Hammond Student Center
Fitchburg, MA

Friday, May 3
Center for Arabic Culture
191 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA

Sunday, May 5
Peace Cafe
Busboys & Poets, 5th & K
Cullen Room
1025 5th St NW
Washington, DC

Monday, May 6
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Rome 200
1619 Mass Ave
Washington, DC
Noon-2pm (Join the Facebook event!)

Tuesday, May 7
Palestine Center
2425 Virginia Ave NW
Washington, DC

Tuesday, May 7
Barnes & Noble
555 12th St NW
Washington, DC

Here, re-posted by permission, is Prof. Richard Falk’s incredibly kind review of Fast Times in Palestine — the first review of Fast Times in its new incarnation as a published book. It was originally posted on Prof. Falk’s delightful, humane, and intelligent blog, Citizen Pilgrimage.

Prof. Falk is the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton, among other august positions and accomplishments, and he started his blog in part as a celebration of his 80th birthday.

Here is his review:

An Indispensable Book on Palestine/Israel

richardFalk I realize that without knowing it, I have long waited for this book, although I could not have imagined its lyric magic in advance of reading. It is a triumph of what I would call ‘intelligent innocence,’ the great benefits of a clear mind, an open and warm heart, and a trustworthy moral compass that draws sharp lines between good and evil while remaining ever sensitive to the contradictory vagaries of lives and geographic destinies. Pamela Olson exhibits an endearing combination of humility and overall emotional composure that makes her engaged witnessing of the Palestinian ordeal so valuable for me as I believe and hope it will be for others.

Early on, she acknowledges her lack of background with refreshing honesty: “Green and wide-eyed, I wandered into the Holy Land, an empty vessel.” But don’t be fooled. Olson, who had recently graduated from Stanford, almost immediately dives deeply into the daily experience of Palestine and Palestinians, with luminous insight and a sensibility honed on an anvil of tenderness, truthfulness, and a readiness for adventure and romance.

Upon crossing the border that separates Israel from the West Bank, enduring routine yet frightening difficulties at the checkpoint, she find herself in the Palestinian village of Jayyous, not far from the Palestinian city of Jenin. Her first surprise is the welcoming warmth of the villagers whose hospitality makes her feel almost as if she is on a homecoming visit to Stigler, the small town in eastern Oklahoma where she grew up. Almost at once Olson finds herself in the midst of a social circle in Jayyous that harvests olives during the day and sits together on porches in the evening puffing on a nargila (water pipe) and conversing about the world.

Olson’s authenticity pervades the book, whether it is a matter of adoring the cuisine or acknowledging her infatuation with a Palestinian young man who crosses her path. She learns to speak a bit of Arabic, reads up on the struggle, and stays alert. The style of the book is an enchanting mixture of personal journal, travelogue, political primer on the conflict, and coming of age memoir. She writes with clarity, humor, and self-scrutiny (in a tone of almost asking herself, ‘Who is this girl from rural Oklahoma who is experiencing this extraordinary encounter with people and the sad conditions of their lives?’).

ftc2 As the title implies, it is primarily a book about Palestine and what occupation means for Palestinians trapped under Israeli military rule for more than 45 years, and how their extraordinary qualities of humane coping make Jayyous and Ramallah so inspirational for her. It instills an intense longing to return and share the dangers and deprivations, which are more powerfully satisfying than the pleasures of ‘freedom.’ (I am reminded of a friend from Gaza, a leading human rights activist, whose family has been living in Cairo in recent years. He tells me that when he plans a vacation, his university age children who are studying abroad insist on going to Gaza rather than Paris or London.)

Yet the book is sensitive to the tragic experiences of both peoples. Through the whole of her experience, Olson remains open to her Israeli friend, Dan, as well as to a Christian appreciation of the Holy Land, not as a believer but as someone whose identity was formed in a religiously Christian community. Early on in the book, when she tells Dan how disturbed she is by the occupation, he reminds her of Israeli grief and distress.

Dan’s words: “Last year there was a suicide bombing practically every week, it was… unbelievable. The mall we went to yesterday was bombed last year. Three weeks ago a suicide bomber killed twenty people in a restaurant in Haifa. Just innocent people having a meal.” Olson’s response is characteristically empathetic: “I sighed and looked out over the water. What I had seen in the West Bank was terrible, but there was another side to the story, after all. I tried to imagine the horror of people sitting around having a meal, and then all of a sudden—” But in the end it becomes clear that Israel’s human rights violations have, if anything, a negative impact on Israeli security.

One of the most moving chapters is a description of a visit by Olson’s mother and stepfather. She pressured them to come so that “they would never have to wonder whether I had exaggerated either the beauty or the horror.” Because this was her mother’s first trip outside of America, she saw what was to be seen with fresh eyes. This experience produced joy and wonder along with tearful reactions at checkpoints, such as: “Good Lord… How can this be happening over here and no one in America even knows or cares?” Is this not the question we should all have been asking for decades? During the visit, they also spend time touring the Christian sites in and around Jerusalem and the Galilee that are particularly meaningful to her religious mother.

The timeline of the book covers 2003-2005. But the essentials of the occupation emerge, especially the encroachment of the separation wall, the settlements, and checkpoints, and what it means for a Palestinian to live day by day under systematic violations of human rights that show no sign of ending in the foreseeable future. When Olson inserts information about history, Israeli and Palestinian politics, international law and elementary morality, she is accurate, concise, and perceptive. She also is honest enough not to suppress her emotional responses to some extreme situations.

In the end what gives the book its special value is the compelling credibility of her “love affair with a homeless homeland,” a sub-title that says it all! It is one thing to lament the suffering and humiliation of the Palestinians or to condemn the cruelty and harshness of the Israeli occupation. It is quite another to be able to observe these defining realities and yet see beyond to a proud and gracious people with a generous sense of humor who manage to live as vibrantly as possible even under almost unimaginable circumstances of oppression. It is this combination of feeling the Palestinian hurt while celebrating the warmth and genuineness of the Palestinian embrace that allows a reader to achieve what I had previously thought impossible without an immersion in the place itself.

Olson is a twenty-first century example of how a reassuringly normal American woman might best visit the Arab world. She is intensely curious, with a gift for observation and dialogue and a sensibility that is not afraid of danger or to acknowledge shades of gray or to register her disappointments with others, and above all with herself. Her own evolution is also relevant, from a ‘Bible-centric’ youth in Oklahoma to a scientifically oriented skepticism to a wonderfully caring person who managed to have this incredible ‘love affair’ with occupied Palestine, amid the ruins. In her words, “I couldn’t imagine a better university of human nature.”

Obviously Pamela Olson is blessed with talent. A girl from rural Oklahoma who had to struggle to find the funds to attend college does not make it to the likes of Stanford very often, where she majors in physics and political science, nor does the typical graduate defer entering the job market and go about exploring the world to find out what it is like, and how best to live her life. It is thus not entirely surprising that after her experiences in Palestine, Olson returned to work for a ‘Defense Department think tank’ to try to understand why American foreign policy was so dysfunctional, and found it ‘educational but disillusioning.’ She lasted less than two years before deciding to write Fast Times in Palestine, her attempt to bring what she learned in Palestine directly to the American people.

I have the following daydream: If everyone in America could just sit down quietly and read this book, there would be such an upsurge of outrage and empathy that the climate of opinion on the Israel/Palestine conflict would finally change for the better—even in the polluted air that now prevails within the Beltway. At the very least, as many people as possible should read the book, and if your reaction is similar to mine, give a copy to friends and encourage them to spread the word. We in America should stop subsidizing and facilitating the systematic creation of ‘a homeless homeland.’ As a close friend in Jayyous named Rania tells Pamela, “Imagine if there was no occupation! Palestine would be like paradise.”

The book can be pre-ordered from Amazon. It will be available in mid-March. 

I urge you to do so!

My book

Fast Times in Palestine is in bookstores worldwide! Order on Amazon, or check out the book's website.

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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