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Summary

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.

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Powerfully moving

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Mindblowing insight into Palestine/Israel conflict

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What other book might you compare The Lemon Tree to, and why?

I've read several books about Palestine and this one is particularly powerful as it gives both perspectives.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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wonderful book

gives a step by step overview of the Palestinian tragedy, and the apartheid regime that is Israel.

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  • Faithfull Fan
  • 11-04-18

Steeping The Lemon Tree

The Lemon Tree offers an interesting perspective to describe the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But history is sometimes dry even though necessary to frame most any story, and especially dry if it is complicated history. It was so in the beginning of this book, and consequently a slow read in the beginning. But if you stick with it, you’ll be glad. It’s like steeping lemon tea—the story becomes more flavorful and interesting if you can just wait. The story is both deeply personal and deeply political. A great read for anyone curious about Middle East conflicts, and you do not need a political science degree to understand or enjoy it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Krystal D Gomez
  • 07-03-18

Every Christian must read this.

Growing up as a Zionist I heard half of the story. As the saying goes "history is written by the victors," so reader be aware to not ignore the horrors done to "the least of these." In caring to hear about the other side of the story, and knowing the people - may God know whom we are at the end and not turn us away.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Samantha M
  • 13-11-17

Empathetic

As a Jew by choice I read this book to get some idea of the Israel/Palestine conflict. I wanted a view from both sides and I got one. The fact that the author narrated the story made it that much more powerful. You get the full intention of her work with inflections and emphasis in all the right ways. I would highly recommend.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike Vantine
  • 08-08-17

A very small piece of a huge picture.

The story is well written and colorfully told but it's perspective lacks the spiritual and much longer history that lies beyond what is told here. Neither of the two main characters here are happy and at peace. Furthermore they cannot yet see a solution to their dilemma.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Randi
  • 15-07-17

Rethinking history

A chance to hear two very personal stories apart from the media's portrayal of historic events; and contemplate the situation at a more mature time in my life. Very worthwhile reading! Just as it is with my own extended family members, I find that I love both families and feel their pain but am helpless to resolve differences. I was left wanting "more".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jared L.
  • 07-12-18

A must read for a full view of the Israel/Palestine issue

A fantastically crafted story about both sides, their histories, their drivers and how tangled and interwoven both Arabs and Jews policies and goals are. A complicated situation made understandable by excellent writing and an amazing story of friendship.

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  • Kel Bell
  • 07-10-18

Eye opening

I have always wondered about the origins of the conflict in Israel. My eyes have been opened. Loved it!

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  • michael
  • 07-08-18

History from an unbiased view

This was an amazing story and told the story of a Palestinian and a Jew.

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  • Beckie
  • 19-07-18

Required reading

I had no idea what the Arabs are going through. My eyes were never open to this side of the story. I would dare do most do not understand. This story brings to life the events that have polarized the Middle East and as of today have the Jews repeating history again and again. This story can change your life. I feel it should be required reading of all high school students. They need to see how easy it is for history to repeat itself, how unfair and intolerant humans can be and to argue those points so perhaps one day we can have peace on earth.

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  • GRS
  • 29-01-18

A real life account that reads like a novel.

Tolan reduces the essence of the Jewish -Palestinian conflict to it lowest common denominator -- personal longing for rootednes. He demonstrates that there is no short or easy route to peace in the Middle East, but it is possible through continual dialogue pressing to see the other as your brother, sister.