Writing about Palestine is hard. To talk about it at all, one has to issue a litany of disclaimers and clarifications before broaching the subject. The discussion finally begins after the audience is already exhausted from listening to all the reasons why support for Palestine doesn’t automatically equal dislike for Israel or disrespect for Jewish history.
Pamela Olson’s story in Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland (Seal Press, March 2013) seeks an honest, human way around polite prerequisites. She does so through her own transformative journey while living, and later working, in Palestine. The beauty of Olson’s story is that it doesn’t begin with politics. She arrives in Israel at the bequest of an Israeli friend she met while backpacking in Sinai. Olson shows up as a tourist during her transitional, post-college void.
Olson, who comes from Oklahoma, was like most Americans: she knew nothing about the conflict and had no real information about Islam and Arabs (or the fact that many Palestinians are Christian). After a day harvesting olives with Palestinians near Jayyous, she witnessed the travesty of confiscated land, aggressive Israeli soldiers, and The Wall – an in-progress physical barrier between Palestine and Israel.
“Suddenly, the conflict in this part of the world was no longer a blank horror,” she writes. “It was merely an extremely difficult series of challenges whose basic units were human beings.” Her own personal story is the focus, but her story is comprised of Palestinian and Israeli threads that give human face to both perspectives.
‘Succulture’ (Germany) chose ‘Love InshAllah’ as its first foreign-language book review!
“When walking through these stories, we forget about politics. We forget the stereotypes the media present to us but we get the key to common understanding. And as we go from room to room we learn to see the women of Islam are not to be generalized but are nevertheless connected by their love for Allah, for life, and for love itself.”
The rest of the review is available here.
Check out some recent feedback from our readers. Let us know what you think of the book too — follow us on Twitter @LoveInshAllah!
Brother Sulaimon, currently in prison in Angola, Louisiana, passed along his review of Love, InshAllah: “you know I finished it in less than a week. I could’ve finished it in one day if I chose to–just shut down on everyone and everything around me–but, I chose to marinate in it for awhile. Bottom line: I totally, truly, sincerely, spirit-liftingly, on a serious emotionally needed review level, not only enjoyed it, but OVERjoyed it too! Tell those sisters THANK YOU! It touched sides of me that I forgot existed, for real.”
Love InshAllah on Al-Hurra TV!
The global press continues to be intrigued by Muslim women openly and honestly raising their voices to share their stories:
Sometimes a book can weave its way into your consciousness so deeply that the characters and stories merge with you, mirroring back buried pieces of you, and expand your thinking in unimaginable ways. Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, edited by Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu, is one such book.
There were also a number of features on our amazing contributors:
Leila Khan (‘Rerouting’) was interviewed by KPFA’s awesome APEX Express, which highlights Asian & Pacific Islander perspectives. Her insights begin at the 36-minute mark, here.
Community organizer and contributing writer Tanzila ‘Taz’ Ahmed (‘Punk drunk love’) was selected as Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP) 2011 Unsung Hero. Taz gives us ways to ‘pay it forward‘ at her blog.
For those of you in Boston, our contributor Zahra Noorbaksh (‘The Birds, the bees – and my hole”) will be performing her hilarious one-woman show ‘All Atheists are Muslim’ at Boston University tomorrow night!
Filmmaker and contributor Nijla Mumin’s new film Two Bodies was featured in two recent film festivals. You can catch the trailer, here.