x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

Book review: Transformation from American tourist into champion for Palestinian rights

Pamela J Olson chronicles her experience working for NGOs in Ramallah in Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair With a Homeless Homeland

Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair With a Homeless Homeland Pamela J Olson Seal Press

American university grad Pamela Olson was planning a lengthy backpacking holiday around the Arab world when she was sidetracked by the injustices she witnessed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Disillusioned by her own country's supporting role in what she saw as Israel's violent, systematic and illegal encroachment on Palestinian land, she decided to stay in the West Bank and do NGO work, monitoring and reporting on human rights abuses.

Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland is both an engaging story of a young woman's experiences exploring an alien culture and a pretty good backgrounder for those who wish to better understand the conflict.

The sharp, up-close and personal observations Olson makes as a volunteer for the democracy advocate Mustafa Barghouti's failed bid for the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005 are particularly worth reading.

However, many readers in the Middle East may be tempted to skip through some parts of the book, which seem to be aimed at a distant audience that is largely unfamiliar with Palestine's history, culture and politics.

pmuir@thenational.ae