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The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the…

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East

by Sandy Tolan

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Interesting true story and history in the conflicts of Israel and Palestine. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Interesting true story and history in the conflicts of Israel and Palestine. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This book traces the intertwined histories of Bashir Khair, a Moslem Palestinian, and Dalia Eskenazi, an Israeli Jew, and their families through the house in which they both spent their childhoods. Bashir’s father built the house himself in al-Ramla in 1936; his family had lived in Palestine under the Ottomans for generations and were prominent in the city. Forced east from their house and town during the 1948 war, they left their roots behind. Arriving in Israel after the 1948 war, having survived the Holocaust, Dalia and her parents moved to al-Ramla and into the Khair’s house. Having been taught the Arabs fled, Dalia often wondered why people would leave such a beautiful home. When the borders opened after the 1967 war, Bashir and 2 cousins visited al-Ramla to see their former homes. Dalia welcomed them, inviting them to see the whole house and served them refreshments in the garden by the lemon tree Bashir’s father planted. Thus began an extraordinary relationship between a Palestinian who has never relented in his quest for his country and a Jewish Israeli who is equally determined to protect her country while still seeking justice for and peace with the Palestinians. The author’s 7 years of research are reflected in the extensive historical detail of the region, going back many years, along with the personal details of both families up to 2006. Heroes of each side are represented for good and bad actions, but the heart of the story remains on Dalia and Bashir, their families and the connections they have maintained for more than 35 years. This book will provide a deep understanding for anyone who wants a true picture of Israeli-Palestinian issues.

E. Goldstein-Erickson
  BHS.Librarians | Sep 17, 2015 |
28. The Lemon Tree : An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by [Sandy Tolan (2006, 352 page library Hardcover, read Apr 14-26)

The story of a kind of friendship between a Palestinian resistance leader, Bashir, and an Israeli Jew, Dalia, who grew up in the home he was evicted from in 1948. They first meet in 1967, in the aftermath of the six-day war. In this odd period of low security and low violence Bashir takes a bus to his old home, knocks on the door, and Dalia, a teenage Israeli soldier, answers and invites him in.

Tolan documents their story as way of covering the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He is meticulous with his facts and documentation. He remains impartial (kind of, as Dahlia is not an Israeli equivalent of Bashir, she is just a regular citizen) and manages to sympathetically cover the Palestinian perspective without neglecting the Jewish one.

Unfortunately the reading experience gets kind of dull. There is so much history that is just sort of wedged in there and there is not all that much to say about Bashir and Dalia's friendship other than a few interesting conversations and an important open letter.

The overall affect is thought-provoking. I found it quite moving to imagine this young idealistic Israeli girl just after the six day war trying to reason with a Palestinian, and this young man talking to her, listening and stating his case while, without her knowing, he is deeply involved in the resistance. Two idealistic young people with clashing misunderstandings in civil affectionate discussion. And then there is the after - some 40 years later Bashir has spent most of his life in prison and there is no reconciliation. This is not Northern Ireland. Nothing has been resolved - or even learned. That is sad and worth thinking about. ( )
  dchaikin | May 26, 2015 |
This was an excellently written, engrossing book and a good way to bring a very complex, very long geopolitical issue more accessible to the layman. I was just as enthralled by Tolan's notes as the book itself and found myself in constant admiration of his diligence in attributing sources or quotes.

Overall, I think Tolan did a good job being pretty even-handed, or as balanced as can be expected given the inherently vitriolic divisiveness of the Isreali-Palestinian conflict. I think he could have done a better job explaining the U.S.' interests in the region when relevant, but then again I also understand that wasn't the purpose of this book.

Regardless, this is a good introductory read about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or at least it was. Of course, so much has happened since 2006, when the book was published, I would also recommend brushing up on current events from them before forming any political opinions based on this book alone.

In the end, however, Tolan offers an accessible, well-researched and well-written glimpse into the humanity that drives both the conflict and the potential for peace in the region. ( )
  Shutzie27 | Jul 4, 2014 |
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For the children, Arab and Jew, between the river and the sea. And for Lamis, who brought me into the story.
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The young arab man approached a mirror in the washroom of Israel's West Jerusalem bus station.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Based on a 43-minute radio documentary that Tolan produced for "Fresh Air," this volume pursues the story into the homes and histories of the two families at its center through the present day. Their stories form a personal microcosm of the last 70 years of Israeli-Palestinian history.… (more)

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