The tale of a simple act of faith between two young people - one Israeli, one Palestinian - that symbolizes the hope for peace in the Middle East. In 1967, not long after the Six-Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramle, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly 20 years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir Al-Khairi, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited them in. This act of faith in the face of many years of animosity is the starting point for a true story of a remarkable relationship between two families, one Arab, one Jewish, amid the fraught modern history of the region. In his childhood home, in the lemon tree his father planted in the backyard, Bashir sees dispossession and occupation; Dalia, who arrived as an infant in 1948 with her family from Bulgaria, sees hope for a people devastated by the Holocaust. As both are swept up in the fates of their people, and Bashir is jailed for his alleged part in a supermarket bombing, the friends do not speak for years. They finally reconcile and convert the house in Ramle into a day-care centre for Arab children of Israel, and a center for dialogue between Arabs and Jews. Now the dialogue they started seems more threatened than ever; the lemon tree died in 1998, and Bashir was jailed again, without charge. The Lemon Tree grew out of a 43-minute radio documentary that Sandy Tolan produced for Fresh Air. With this audiobook, he pursues the story into the homes and histories of the two families at its center, and up to the present day. Their stories form a personal microcosm of the last 70 years of Israeli-Palestinian history. In a region that seems ever more divided, The Lemon Tree is a reminder of all that is at stake, and of all that is still possible.
©2006 Sandy Tolan (P)2013 Audible Inc.
I was inexplicably reluctant to read this, perhaps just because so many journalists have misrepresented so much before. However, the book is incredibly well researched and rich in detail and humanity without ever feeling sensationalistic. The book illuminates dignity, friendship, identity, history, loss, love, pain and faith. It represents the forces of entitlement and right, as well as pragmatism. A remarkable story in its own right, but one whose telling is intelligently and sensitively done, reserving judgement but providing the information for the listener to draw conclusions.
The audiobook production is also very good. High quality and well delivered.
What a book. Totally absorbing, enlightening and moving story which takes you through the history of Palestine up until close to present day. The situation is described from both the native Palestinian point of view, and that of Jewish settlers.
It's the story of two people from either side of the conflict who become friends. The Palestinian family is forced from their home, and a Jewish family fleeing persecution in Europe move in. In this way , we see the shared geography and history from two very different perspectives. These two main characters share a mutual respect, whilst having such fundamental disagreements, and the reader is given a very clear outline of both viewpoints.
It's historically accurate, and contains a lot of factual detail, but never becomes dull or dry. Thoroughly recommend it.
I've read several books about Palestine and this one is particularly powerful as it gives both perspectives.
Tolan would not have been my first choice for narrator. Compared with other audio books that use professional actors to narrate, Tolan's narration is flat and whiny. However, the story is still engaging and worth listening to either way.
"A little too biased"
Tough to review. I know I carry my own prejudices into this. The book is purported to be a story of a Palestinian man going back to his home in Israel that had been forfeited during/for the creation of the state of Israel, and his meeting the current resident and the story of the relationship between those two. In reality, the whole first half of the book is Israeli history, or rather the history of the formation of the state of Israel. Unfortunately, it appears to be told in a somewhat pro-Palestinian/anti-Israeli manner. And the rest of the book also seems to be very pro-Palestinian. I realize that the author is an American Jew, and he may be bending over backwards NOT to make it visibly pro-Israeli because of that, but the impression is that he's gone way too far in the reverse.
Either way, the picture of the woman, Dahlia, seems well-rounded, and she truly appears to be a "good", fair-minded, person. The man (whose name I could never keep in mind very long, perhaps because I really didn't care for him) to be a typical Palestinian who definitely had grievances, but refused to offer any compromise or possible solutions.
"Great story telling and standpoint"
I felt that Sandy's book told a story of two inhabitants whose destinies were intertwined by a single house, a single lemon tree- A Jewish woman and an Arabic man. Sandy also elaborated and complimented their story with the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In my opinion, this book was able to note both sides of the conflict and it's stories from a neutral standpoint, as much as Sandy could. Overall, definitely worth a pick up if one wants to know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"A compelling narrative with competing perspectives"
Tolan is a master story teller, an educator and a historian. Telling the story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the perceptions of a Jew and a Palestinian helps bring their struggle to light in a vivid way and ignite love and compassion for both sides. In a conflict marred with lies and deceits from both sides, this book will both entertain and educate the reader to the complexity and truth of the situation and builds hope for a future of peaceful coexistence.
"Great for historical context, but sort of preachy"
This book does a great job of explaining the intricacies and contradictions of a complex conflict. To say that it puts real faces to ideas, though, is going to far. Instead of actually describing the experiences: sensations, emotions and memories of Daliha and Bashir, Tolan editorialized and mythologizes the two. The result is a preachy and somewhat repetitive narrative, a story about to ideals, instead of two people.
Still, for a greater understanding of the conflict in the Middle East, I highly recommend.
"BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY!"
I found this book not only to be interesting but also most informative!!
I certainly feel that ai have much better understanding of why emotions run so high in the region and between the Arabs and the Jews."
Very well presented!
"A must-read for anyone who seeks understanding"
A complex tale told with a firm focus in humanity.
A complex story about an Arab family & a Jewish family and the world events that created the dilemma in their lives.
Family histories examined and shared. Powerful & painful - both sides seeking home & security.
"Informative and moving."
Helped me gain a more detailed understanding of the current situation in Israel, as well as the positions of the Palestinians and Israelis who struggle to live in peace.
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