An inside look at the Palestinian West Bank

February 22, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

On February 17, 2009, Pamela Olson gave a riveting talk on the details of daily life in the Palestinian West Bank. She gave her talk at a recent session of “TechTalks,” a series of talks sponsored by Google.

Olson graduated from Stanford in 2002 with a major in physics. She lived in Ramallah, West Bank, for a year and a half beginning in the summer of 2004 and worked as a journalist for the Palestine Monitor.

What is startling about this video are the many gorgeous scenes from the West Bank accompanying Olson’s introduction to day-to-day life in the West Bank, something which Americans rarely learn of from the American media.  The happiness and charm of the West Bank is covered in the first half of Olson’s talk.  But there is more to the West Bank, of course. Behind all of the charm:

looms the conflict, the occupation, and violence. Since September 2000, more than 5,500 Palestinians and 1,100 Israelis have been killed. A series of walls, fences, roadblocks, checkpoints, army bases, and settlements keep the Palestinians in the West Bank under an almost constant state of siege and strangle the economy of many towns and villages, including Bethlehem. Gaza has been turned into an open-air prison whose desperate inmates can only get vital supplies through smuggling tunnels — which also transport weapons that Palestinian militants use to target Israeli civilians.

[Her story is] a fascinating world of beauty and terror, of hospitality and homicide, of the absurd and the sublime constantly together — a microcosmic view of a little-understood human story with global implications.

Olson talks in detail about the numerous checkpoints, the wall and the Israeli settlements.   She plainly explains that the occupation, the checkpoints, the wall and the settlements are indisputably illegal pursuant to international law. The wall now runs 70 km., cutting Palestinians off from each other.  The wall is a “huge scar on the landscape.”  It keeps Palestinians from each other, keeps them from farming, keeps them from their own hospitals and keeps their children from getting to school. Even Palestinian politicians are prevented from having free access to their own people. Entire neighborhoods are being destroyed, to make way for more illegal Israeli settlements. The Palestinians are essentially being herded into an ever-smaller prison.  Olson backs up her statements with extensive photography.

Olson’s vivid photos and her calm commentary makes the violence by Palestinians much more understandable. Watching this talk gave me more information than watching dozens of the simplistic stories told by the American Media. Perhaps this unrelenting stream of simplistic media stories is a major cause of America’s unflinching support of Israeli’s harsh policies toward the Palestinians. Sadly, it is a common Palestinian saying that “The silence of the West is worse than the bullets of the Israelis.”

Here is Olson’s talk, which lasts 80 minutes:

For more information on Pamela Olson, you can visit


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Category: Civil Rights, Current Events, History, Law, law and order, Media, Military, Politics, The Middle East, Videos

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    I don't know about the "violence of the Palestinians" being "more understandable" but, under the current IDF rules of engagement in Gaza, the entire area could be destroyed if some wingnut from Hamas uses the proper positions for firing rockets at Israel.

    The US supports Israel as an ally because of historic ties and its being a democracy. The current violence by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza is unacceptable for a democracy, and the ties we have with Israel are being severely strained as innocents die unnecessarily.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Tim, US policy should not be enabling some of the things that the IDF is doing in blatant violation of international law.

    There is a much more vile and despicable reason for the US to blindly support the IDF. Money for munitions factories.

    According to Amnesty international and other sources, the IDF has used several illegal weapons against the civilian population in Palestinian areas.

    Banned weapons used include white phosphorus bombs, thermobaric bombs, depleted uranium projectiles, flechette bombs, and a new device that some are calling an "anputation bomb".

    These are largely being manufactured.

    in the US.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    If this is true, then it's about time:

    If Israel wants US help to defuse the Iranian threat, Mr Emanuel was reported to have told Jewish leaders in Washington, then get ready to start evacuating settlements in the West Bank.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Check out 2012 Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee trying to rev up some more hate and killing in the Middle East, I suppose:

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