Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 459 (since 2009-10-01 14:26:50)

Pamela Olson

Pamela Olson is the author of Fast Times in Palestine. She blogs here.


Showing comments 459 - 401

  • 'Jimmy Carter's cancer is God's punishment,' says leading Israeli newspaper
  • Israeli and Palestinian women meet despite the checkpoints
    • Great article, but quick (and important) correction:

      "In the West Bank, doing anything with the Israelis might come with the derogative label “normalizer”, which is used for people seeking normal relations with the occupying power."

      "Normalization" does not mean "seeking normal relations with the occupying power," at least that's not the main thrust of the meaning.

      The main thrust of the meaning is making the occupation itself seem normal by interacting publicly with Israelis as if there's no occupation -- as if "both sides" are "equally wrong," as if things "aren't really that bad."

      Any interaction with Israelis that understands and specifically condemns the occupation is not considered "normalizing."

      It's a bit dangerous to say "normalization" means "seeking normal relations with the occupying power." What most Palestinians want is exactly normal relations with Israelis -- normal as in "equal" and "legal." Implying Palestinians do not want normal relations with Israelis makes it sound a bit like they are the ones refusing peace.

      What they don't want is "pretend" normal relations while the occupation is still ongoing and the Israelis in question are pretending it's not.

  • Thorny issues
  • What to do when a hate group shows up outside your mosque
  • Big front-page NYT article on 'settlements' does not quote one single Palestinian
    • There's also a HUGE inaccuracy right at the beginning of the NYT article, saying there are only 350,000 settlers in the West Bank.


      Later they add this little (buried) caveat: "In addition, there are another 300,000 Israelis living in parts of Jerusalem that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed in a move most of the world considers illegal."

      The NYT ALWAYS gives these phony numbers as if the East Jerusalem settlers aren't settlers, or are barely settlers. It drives me up the wall. Legally, they have EXACTLY the same (lack of) leg to stand on as all the other settlements. They should just say 650,000 settlers and quit trying to whitewash it.

      Not holding my breath, sadly...

  • Netanyahu crashes Paris unity march, French gov't fumes
    • Sorry to go off topic, MHughes, but I'm not sure how else to reach you. I will be in London this spring, and I'll be glad to be in touch. Please contact me at pamolson (a) gmail if you like. Thanks!

  • Israeli government attempts to shut down Nakba film festival in Tel Aviv
    • "(5) An act of vandalism or physical desecration that dishonors the state’s flag or symbol."

      Then why aren't settlers arrested every time they spraypaint stars of David all over Palestinian property?

  • Entry Denied
    • Horrific story, I'm so sorry to hear you went through that.

      For others who may try to go through in the future: Don't give them any more information than you absolutely have to. Nothing concrete. Try to be as vague as possible. Don't mention "Palestine." Just lie and say you're going to be a tourist in Israel.

      They will use ANYTHING you say against you. So don't give them anything you don't absolutely have to give them. Also, make sure any electronics are "clean" of anything you don't want them to find, and have an extra fake email and/or Facebook account set up if they try to get you to log in to them.

      Remember: You don't owe them anything. They are there illegitimately. Don't feel bad for lying.

      Of course, I hate lying, and it gives me digestive distress for days. It reminds me of a passage I read in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

      Not until that point did Tomas realize that he was under interrogation. All at once he saw that his every word could put someone in danger. Although he obviously knew the name of the editor in question, he denied it: "I'm not sure."

      "Now, now," said the man in a voice dripping with indignation over Tomas's insincerity, "you can't tell me he didn't introduce himself!"

      It is a tragicomic fact that our proper upbringing has become an ally of the secret police. We do not know how to lie. The "Tell the truth!" imperative drummed into us by our mamas and papas functions so automatically that we feel ashamed of lying even to a secret policeman during an interrogation. It is simpler for us to argue with him or insult him (which makes no sense whatsoever) than to lie to his face (which is the only thing to do).

  • Gaza 'fractured' Rabbi Rosen's spiritual home
    • It's fascinating to me how it's always the same thing, in congregations or on campus. The detractors don't say, "This guy is wrong, and here's why." They say, "This guy is divisive, let's shut him up or throw him out!"

      "Divisive." Everyone who has ever opposed "socially acceptable oppression" has been divisive. That's kind of the point.

  • Being Palestinian got me barred from visiting Palestine
    • "what’s going on in Area-C is not occupation but internal development and management"

      No, officer, I didn't steal that car. I was just aiding in its location reassignment and ownership modification.

      No, your honor, I did not kill that man and chop up his corpse. I was assisting him in life extraction and sanitary limb disassembly.

      I could do this all day...

  • Hillary Clinton's 11th-hour diplomacy
    • Citizen, not all women are blinded by someone's gender, and it's rather insulting to be accused of such. I know lots of women who would never have anything to do with that sleazy war criminal.

      Sadly, there's virtually no one else who has any apparent shot at the next presidency whom I would want to have anything to do with, either. With special interests controlling everything (and most people still not educated enough to see through it), our political culture is almost entirely toxic.

  • 'Bombing the Dead' -- Max Blumenthal in Gaza
    • Of course he was welcomed. I've never met anyone, of any nationality or religious persuasion, who wasn't welcomed in Palestine (and usually overfed) as long as they came in peace and with a modicum of respect. Palestinians, by and large, don't hate anyone. Anymore than anyone else does. They hate the system that oppresses them. And they do not seem inclined to take it for much longer.

  • On being accused of anti-semitism by well meaning liberals
  • 'NYT' is furiously rewriting history of Gaza conflict
  • Ben Gurion detention guard tells humanitarian worker she is being deported for 'trying to change Israel and make it free of racism'
    • The horrible treatment at the border and constant threat of deportation was what finally drove me to "voluntarily" deport myself and leave. I never had an experience as bad as hers, but they were bad enough. And of course they were nothing compared to the indignities (and worse) that Palestinians endure. It outrages every fiber of my being.

      Just one example of my experiences:

      link to

  • Visit to Hebron (or How can I explain this living hell to a nice liberal Jew in Brookline?)
  • Pardon our interruption
  • 'Violence of Jewish power' in Jerusalem has 'poisoned the Jewish community' -- 'Forward' reports
    • The Wall itself annexes approximately 10% on the western side (at least 8% in any case), and the Jordan Valley is de facto annexed to Israel (Palestinians have largely been driven out and the remaining Palestinians are constantly harassed), which is another 25% of the West Bank, and Area C in total is around 60% (where Palestinians have virtually no rights and are constantly harassed and driven out), and the Wall also steals water and, by the way, THE CAPITAL of Palestine.

      But if you wanna split hairs, go ahead.

    • By the way, even my poor sister got caught up in it, even though she's never been to Palestine. She went to a Passover Seder in LA with a college friend and her family while I was living in Ramallah. It was going smoothly until she mentioned she had a sister living in Palestine who'd had a few harrowing run-ins with Israeli soldiers. After she stopped talking, the silence was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Then she was curtly informed that:

      (a) There's no such thing as Palestine or Palestinians;

      (b) Palestine is very dangerous and her sister is very likely to get shot by Palestinians;

      (c) There's no way Israeli soldiers ever pointed any guns at her sister, or anyone else for that matter; and

      (d) Her sister deserved to have Israelis guns pointed at her because "if she’s with Palestinians, then she’s a threat."

      Ouch. It was her first encounter with that kind of ugly clamp-minded Pavlovian bigotry coming from otherwise kind, sane, and educated people she’d never had any problem with before. All I could say was, "Welcome to my world."

      When my sister mentioned the Wall to them, they snapped, “The Wall is only 10%.” Which I guess means they believe the Wall only steals 10% of the land in the West Bank.

      The figure is actually much higher, and the land they’re stealing destroys Palestinian society out of all proportion to the percentage itself, but that’s hardly the point. “Only” stealing 10% of the small remaining land of an already brutalized and disinherited nation by force is A-OK?

      They were wearing their "I LOVE ISRAEL. I WANT PEACE. I AM A ZIONIST." T-shirts, which were also popular on the Stanford campus at the time. I had to wonder what kind of peace they meant.

    • Lots of respect for young people standing up for the rights of all humans. Especially when they come from cultures that have tragically come to demonize universalist principles.

      "There is an acute sense of psychological instability that comes with doing work that most of your friends, family, and community don’t really understand. In fact, a huge proportion of my community doesn’t even believe that there is a real Israeli occupation, certainly not of East Jerusalem. That means constant cognitive dissonance between what I see on a daily basis and what I hear from so many of the people who have surrounded & nurtured me from birth. The gulf between the reality of suffering on the ground and the knowledge of much of the Jewish community is enormous and crushes me daily."

      Breaks my heart. I got just a taste of this when I came back from Palestine the first time. I watched friends, who were otherwise kind and thoughtful, suddenly turned into snarling racists when I brought up the "P-word." It was a terrible, disillusioning, disconnecting feeling, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

      But the only thing worse is selling yourself out and remaining silent when you know the truth.

      Hugs and solidarity.

  • Public debate on Zionism sets a crucial precedent
    • Traveling back in time to, say, 1985:

      "It’s not that white South Africans refuse to debate “Apartheid,” they just don’t see the point. Apartheid exists, it’s the nature of the state, and has been for ___ years. Only marginal extremists think that is going to change any time soon."

  • 'Washington Post' reports that funders have excommunicated Jews who don't believe in Zionism
    • I think a lead was buried somewhere:

      “On behalf of the Jewish people, are you now or have you ever been a signatory to a boycott of Israel?”


      WTF is that supposed to mean? Who is he to speak for all Jewish people?

  • Israeli government tries to undo image of Pope at the wall
    • Regarding Israel's Wall and whether or not it's effective in preventing terrorism (from my book Fast Times in Palestine):

      The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security and intelligence service, credited the sharp decline in violence in 2005 to the truce and Hamas’s desire to enter the political arena -- not to the Wall.

      The Shin Bet admitted that the Wall was “no longer mentioned as the major factor in preventing suicide bombings, mainly because the terrorists have found ways to bypass it. The fence does make it harder for them, but the flawed inspection procedures at its checkpoints, the gaps and uncompleted sections enable suicide bombers to enter Israel.” Hundreds of Palestinians cross the Wall every day to work in Israel without a permit. If someone is really motivated to get across, he absolutely can.

      The main reason for the drop in attacks was “the fact that Hamas, in general, stopped engaging in terror activities . . . Its focus on the political arena and the preparations for the Palestinian parliamentary elections [because the bombings were not supported by the Palestinian public] have limited its active involvement in terror to a large extent.”

      Source: Amos Harel, “Shin Bet: Palestinian Truce Main Cause for Reduced Terror,” Haaretz, January 2, 2006.

      The Israeli Army also admitted on several occasions that the route of the Wall was not for security considerations but due to settlement considerations, including future planned settlements. Not that they needed to admit the obvious. Still, they did.

      I wish people would quit bothering with bullsh** propaganda and deal with reality. The people who desperately need this propaganda are the ones who refuse to deal with reality. And it harms everyone.

  • America's rabbi hoovers celebrities
    • What a sleazy little star f***ing weirdo. If he wasn't a seemingly powerful warmonger who kisses all the right butts, it'd just be kind of adorable, in a queasy kind of way.

      Charlize Theron is pretty hot, though. Still, just for my own reputation as a sober adult, I'd probably gawk at someone else's pics of her rather than post a bajillion of my own...

  • The Algeria model -- a conversation with James D. Le Sueur
    • I'm really enjoying Oklahoma. Nice to be close to my nephews, live in a much nicer apartment (with a beautiful river view!) than I could afford elsewhere, play soccer in a park within walking distance (that you don't have to reserve months in advance or pay for), and work on my next books in peace. :)

      My husband and I are both like, "Why the hell did we live in miserable shoeboxes in Manhattan for so long?"

  • Friedman prepares American Jews for a divorce from zealot Israel
    • "There are now about 350,000 Jews living in the West Bank."

      Bullsh**. It's more like 600,000. He was JUST talking about Gilo, then his numbers leave Gilo (and all other East Jerusalem settlements) out.

      Consistency is nice, Mr. F.

  • Palestinian writers bring Gaza's hardships to American audience
  • American Studies Association adds over 700 new members since Israel boycott call
    • Aw, poor widdle victim hophmi. He's gotten used to being in total control, and now his little house of cards is starting to wobble.

      Well, get used to it. This thing is only going in one direction. And it's not the one you want.

      I understand it stings to lose privilege that you've come to take for granted. But on the bright side, the Palestinians won't have to be at the blind, brutal mercy of the likes of you for much longer.

  • When Anja Niedringhaus went to Gaza
    • Mati, when it comes to my work in particular, my main goal is to let as many people read it as possible. The story belongs to the world more than it does to me. If I thought distributing it online for free would result in the widest distribution, I would. But something like that wouldn't make it into libraries, university classrooms, and bookstore travel sections, nor result in interviews, reviews, etc.

      I'm still not making much money at all, and I've given away literally thousands of copies for free, both paperback and digital. (Which has the added benefit of creating exposure, reviews, and word-of-mouth.) If I died, I would want people to distribute my work as widely as possible, however possible. It's a story that I think needs to be told. That's the main reason I wrote it.

      I get that other people need to protect their career and income so they can continue doing what they're doing. And lord knows I wish I was paid even minimum wage for the hours I put in. But this photo speaks to something larger than one woman's career, as distinguished and important as it was. And in this case in particular (posting it on Mondoweiss), I would guess the loss to her income and that of the AP is negligible. In fact, the exposure may be a net positive for both them and her. And it's a photo that deserves to be seen as widely as possible.

      Just an opinion, from someone who's admittedly not very career-minded.

    • I'd like to point out, in case anyone is unaware, that "martyr" in the Palestinian context means anyone killed by the occupation -- even a baby in her mother's arms. I'm afraid some people will see that word and assume they were engaged in hostilities somehow. It's an honorific meant to bestow some dignity on a (usually) completely senseless death.

      If the US were occupied and treated the way Palestinians are treated, slaughtered with no recourse, etc., I imagine we might also harken back to the days of Christian martyrs (known for their steadfastness and bravery in the face of oppression) and bestow the honorific on anyone killed in this manner.

    • Very sorry to hear about this very sad loss.

      On the subject of posting the photograph, there comes a point, in my opinion, when a certain kind of image belongs to the world, and to history, not to mention to the actual subjects of the image, more than to any corporation. I understand people need to get paid, but there are things more important than getting paid sometimes. I personally can't imagine wanting to hide an image like that behind a paywall. I would want it shouted from the rooftops.

      Different strokes, I guess.

  • Boteach stops reporter from videotaping Columbia University debate
    • Plus their "friendly" videotapers can hand it over to be edited however they see fit. So they can analyze it and hide it if they accidentally say something racist or otherwise outrageous.

      Zionism can't be fully exposed to the unwashed masses. It must be sanitized for mass consumption.

  • 'The clash of civilizations’ theory is absolutely and completely dead
    • In the Stanford political science department, even before 9/11, the "Clash of Civilizations" was treated as a serious idea. It sounded stupid to me even when I was barely out of Oklahoma and barely out of my teens.

      The whole political science department smelled to high heaven (with Democratic and Republican types just about equally bad, and people who advocated human rights and international law marginalized in almost every way -- they were seen as rather "cute" and "not really serious" -- not in so many words, but that was the vibe).

      After 9/11, I had a sick feelings about how things would go. Unfortunately, it was even worse. How f***ing stupid are we humans, honestly? All you have to do is study history and keep your wits about you, pay attention. Is that really so much to ask?

  • Saudis don't care about Palestinians, say American commentators
    • I met Tamara Cofman Wittes when I first moved to Washington in 2006 (she was at Brookings then, too), all bright-eyed and hopeful that I would find at least a few like-minded folks around town. I had no idea then who Saban was. My whole time in Washington was one disillusionment after another. I'm actually writing a book about it. It's one thing to hear how corrupt and morally and intellectually cowardly Washington is -- another to see it in action, among people you would otherwise consider friends and colleagues.

  • 'I'm reminded of Jackson, MS, closing all public pools rather than integrating them' -- Franke on Barnard's Banner-gate
    • "I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.

      Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured."

      ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • U of Michigan student gov't meets tonight, amid anticipation of divestment vote
    • JeffB, you are not even speaking coherently. Tough to have a discussion with incoherence.

    • JeffB: Again: Hundreds of Palestinians cross the Wall every day to work in Israel without a permit. If someone wants to attack Israel, he absolutely can. It will just be a bit more expensive.

      The SHIN BET said it wasn't an effective security measure. So take it up with them.

    • Regarding Israel's Wall and whether or not it's effective in preventing terrorism:

      The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security and intelligence service, credited the sharp decline in violence in 2005 to the truce and Hamas’s desire to enter the political arena -- not to the Wall.

      The Shin Bet admitted that the Wall was “no longer mentioned as the major factor in preventing suicide bombings, mainly because the terrorists have found ways to bypass it. The fence does make it harder for them, but the flawed inspection procedures at its checkpoints, the gaps and uncompleted sections enable suicide bombers to enter Israel.” Hundreds of Palestinians cross the Wall every day to work in Israel without a permit. If someone is really motivated to get across, he absolutely can.

      The main reason for the drop in attacks was “the fact that Hamas, in general, stopped engaging in terror activities . . . Its focus on the political arena and the preparations for the Palestinian parliamentary elections [because the bombings were not supported by the Palestinian public] have limited its active involvement in terror to a large extent.”

      Source: Amos Harel, “Shin Bet: Palestinian Truce Main Cause for Reduced Terror,” Haaretz, January 2, 2006.

  • A movement grows in a Georgia church basement
    • Tremendously hopeful and inspiring. Huge gratitude to both Josh and Adam. The work is not easy (or glamorous), but that's how you eat an elephant -- one bite at a time.

      Segregation, the Soviet Union, South African Apartheid -- these things all seemed rock-solid. Until their rotting foundations finally collapsed. Here's hoping Israeli apartheid will go out without too much of a bang...

  • Iymen Chehade fights Chicago school's cancellation of his class
    • Leave aside, for the moment, the fact that Chehade's main "bias" is toward historical fact, international law, and equal rights for all.

      If the shoe were on the other foot -- say, if a professor were an admitted Zionist, and taught primarily from a Zionist perspective -- would he be accused of "bias" and therefore unqualified to teach a university class?

    • I was lucky enough to meet Iymen when I was in Chicago. His class looks terrific, and he seems extremely knowledgeable. Which is precisely why he is targeted. Can't have him corrupting the youth with the truth.

  • Bloodbath in Jenin
    • That's what I'm saying -- there wasn't any real hope anyway. But they had to do this... "just in case"?

    • The other shoe drops. As always. Precise Israeli army/government timing to scuttle any slim hope of coming to any kind of even minimal accord or agreement.

      Not that there was much hope anyway. But this is just gratuitous. I don't even know what to say anymore.

  • 'What's being done to Palestinians is wrong,' evangelical Christian says on NPR religion show
    • Christians have an idea of what "Christlike" people should be like -- effortlessly loving, forgiving, welcoming, kind, and open to all comers. I have never met a group of people who fulfill that idea more than Palestinians. They of course aren't perfect, but as humans go, they are some of my favorite I've ever had the privilege of living and traveling among.

    • Makes sense. I distinctly remember Jesus saying, "Love your neighbor. Unless he's a Palestinian or something, yuck!"

      Er... nevermind JESUS HIMSELF WAS A PALESTINIAN. And the first Christian community was Palestinian. And the living church in Bethlehem and Jerusalem and Nazareth... is Palestinian.

      *deep, deep, deep sigh...*

  • 'This wall will fall' (the writing on the wall, at Ohio State)
  • Evangelicals who dissent from Christian Zionism wear 'stain of indelible infamy,' Israel says
    • Hophmi: "Baseless accusation featuring false equivalency"

      Pamela: *Ignores troll*

    • “The attempt to use religious motifs in order to mobilize political propaganda and agitate the feelings of the faithful through the manipulation of religion and politics is an unacceptable and shameful act. Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy.”

      I couldn't have put it better myself.

  • Grindr in Hebron: A dispatch from the last debate
    • No Grindr dates in Hebron -- that's a new one to add to the list of grievances of oppressed Jewish Israelis in the Holy Land. God gave them the land AND the option to have a gay date WHENEVER AND WHEREVER THEY WANT. Seriously... what is up with that? Step it up, men of Hebron!

  • Battle over Maryland's anti-boycott Israel bill heats up
    • Speaking of suppression of free speech and thought -- exciting news from Florida.

      Prominent Rabbi Bruce Warshal wrote an article in a Florida newspaper about how he is "getting off the Hillel bandwagon" because of its egregious violations of free speech and thought in the interest of pleasing conservative donors -- who have turned it into "just another Zionist organization" with little to do with actual Judaism. Powerful words.

      link to

  • Conservatives for Palestine
    • Unfortunately I couldn't make it to Bethlehem for the conference, but I heard his talk was pretty disappointing, unfortunately. :(

      Still, I'm pretty shocked he even went at all.

    • Here's the most exciting thing I've heard in a while: The president or Oral Roberts University here in Tulsa will be speaking at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem this month!

      Why is that so exciting? Well, Oklahoma is the buckle of the Bible Belt, and Oral Roberts University is perhaps the little diamond in the center of the buckle. Full-on conservative Christian heartland stuff. I would never in a million years have expected their president to attend such a conference this early in the game:

      link to

      Now that I live in Tulsa (we just moved here from New York), I expect to get in touch and hopefully give some talks on the ORU campus to help bring around some of the students and faculty as well.

      Moving right along!

      P.S. Anyone in the Kentucky/Ohio/Tennessee area, I'm coming through in the next couple of weeks on a book tour. Would love to see some Mondo readers along the way. Here's the schedule:

      link to

      I'll also be at the Sabeel conference in Portland in early April. I'd love to see some of you there, too!

      link to

  • House delivers for AIPAC, 410-1, passing Israel as 'strategic partner' bill
    • “Israel has… never been as strong as it is now. Think of Israel’s economic dynamism, its entrepreneurial spirit, innovative culture, and you get a better sense of why there is so strong a bond between the United States and Israel... It’s this dynamic economy and society that are building blocks for Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and its relationship with the U.S. The U.S. benefits when Israel is strong. This legislation stands by our values; stands by our interests; and stands by Israel.”

      What a bunch of flipping baloney. Since when are we such f**king cave men?

      What happened to the days when we worshipped anything but raw power and economic might? It seemed there in the 90's we might make a little turn toward that direction. Then came Dubya, and we lost all our brain cells.

      Disgustappointing. (Disgusting + disappointing.)

  • National summit to re-assess the special relationship -- Friday in D.C.
  • Penn Hillel pushes Birthright-like trip for non-Jewish students
    • Um, no -- I was not suggesting the Israeli embassy would have any interest in that whatsoever. Rather, people who support justice and peace in the region based on equality. We need to step up our game as much as we can.

    • I wonder if someone could raise a few hundred dollars to send these student leaders copies of Goliath, The General's Son, Fast Times in Palestine, and/or etc...? I can get mine out at wholesale prices. Wish I could afford to just distribute them free myself, a la Alan Dershowitz.

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