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

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

4.0 69
by Sandy Tolan

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In 1967, not long after the Six Day War, three young Arabs ventured into the town of Ramla, in Jewish Israel. They were on a pilgrimage to see their separate childhood homes, from which their families had been driven out nearly twenty years before during the Israeli war for independence. Only one was welcomed: Bashir Al-Khayri was greeted at the door by a


In 1967, not long after the Six Day War, three young Arabs ventured into the town of Ramla, in Jewish Israel. They were on a pilgrimage to see their separate childhood homes, from which their families had been driven out nearly twenty years before during the Israeli war for independence. Only one was welcomed: Bashir Al-Khayri was greeted at the door by a young woman named Dalia.

This act of kindness in the face of years of animosity and warfare is the starting point for a remarkable true story of two families, one Arab, one Jewish; an unlikely friendship that encompasses the entire modern history of Israelis and Palestinians and that holds in its framework a hope for true peace and reconciliation for the region.

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HighBridge Company
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged; 11.75 hours on 9 CDs
Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 5.96(h) x 1.07(d)

Meet the Author

SANDY TOLAN is an author, journalist, and public radio documentary producer with extensive experience covering the Middle East. His work from the region has been honored with several prestigious awards. Tolan has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Audubon, Los Angeles Times Magainze, USA Today, and dozens of other publications.

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Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
required reading for anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.The book is the extraordinarily moving story of two families on each side of the conflict, who managed to appreciate and respect each other's humanity..I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A terrific exploration of the palestinian israeli situation put in such a way that one sees the human beeings involved not just the politics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"The Lemon Tree" was the right book at the right time for me. This year in late February, I came back from my second pilgrimage to the Holy Land convinced that I was woefully ignorant of the history of Palestine since the late 1900's. I knew I had some work to do. This book helped provide a good outline of that history, and did so in ways I found unique. First, the history is given in the context of the personal and family histories of two people, Dalia, an Israeli Jewish woman, and Bashir, an Arab Muslim man. In 1967 Dalia was a 19 year-old college student living in Ramla (al-Ramla in spoken Arabic), Israel, and Bashir was a 26 year-old lawyer living in Ramallah, the West Bank. Dalia and Bashir met at the house in Ramla where they both spent some of their childhoods, but at different times. Why Bashir was no longer living in the house of his childhood represents the heart of the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. The second feature of "The Lemon Tree" which is different from other books which cover the same history is that Dalia's family were refugees from Bulgaria. The other materials I have read did not mention the emigration of Bulgarian Jews. Before I read "The Lemon Tree," I knew nothing about Bulgaria's treatment of the Jews in World War II. Bulgaria found ways to keep their Jewish citizens out of Hitler's death camps. Their emigration proved to be important to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The book ends in 2005. I came away disheartened at the intractability of the conflict and yet deeply moved at the humanity of these two people who over a thirty-eight year period tried again and again to understand each other's perspective. They even found ways to make a little difference for peace in what they did with "their" house. There are many Dalia's and Bashir's in Israel/Palestine. That gives me hope. I closed the book wondering how Dalia and Bashir are doing now, hoping they are well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This well reviewed book was historically well documented and convinces the reader that it is accurate. Classified as a novel, there is little story until page 149 or so. The story is lovely, moving, and thought provoking but if the reader wants history, I'd suggest reading history. Many are more clearly written than this.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
Fantastic history and engaging biography Ostensibly, this is the (true) biography of the friendship between the Israeli woman Dalia Eshkenazi and the Palestinian man Bashir Khairi. However, the book also focuses strongly on background information--providing a wonderful history of the Israel-Palestine conflict since the 1940's. I was hugely pleased by this book for two reasons. First, the friendship between Dalia and Bashir was touching because they both had such strong nationalistic feelings. Somehow, despite their very different views, they were able to remain on good terms for many years. That's touching to me because many books with this let's-make-peace message tend to be about people who are all about love and peace and aren't as strongly influenced by their negative emotions as Dalia and (especially) Bashir. This is a friendship that was difficult to maintain, and yet it prevailed. The second reason I loved this book is because of the wonderful history of the region it provided. It's supposedly a "balanced" view--and it is, in the sense that it recommends justice (and sacrifice) be made by both sides. However, I'd say the book tended to be sympathetic towards to Palestinians. This SLIGHT bias is necessary in this case because many people in the Western world are over-exposed to the Israeli side and don't realize the Palestinians have a side at all. This book is highly recommended to anyone interested in the conflict.
curious100 More than 1 year ago
This book opens a window on the Middle East conflict by putting it in human terms. A friend gave it to me more than a year ago and I couldn't put it down; it's enlightening and absorbing. It has since become the lens through which I view new developments in the ME. I've given the book to several friends, who have also found it to be a touchstone on ME issues. The main story traces the stories of two families - one Arab and one Jewish. Their stories control the storyline. The author, Sandy Tolan, provides historical and political information as context for the main story making the well-researched story captivating rather than dry. It does offer perspectives, drawn from the experiences of two people - one from each family, who engage in a decades-long conversation. But it is not didactic and preachy. It is an enlightening book that has stayed with me since I read it more than a year ago.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this for a book club -- so it wasn't a book that I just picked up because it looked intriguing. It prompted a great (if uncomfortable) conversation. However, when reading it I found that I had mixed feelings. There are sections that read like a pure history lesson and were very slow. They provided important context, but I can't say that I enjoyed them. I felt like I was reading a class assignment. The sections talking about the two families were much more compelling to me. The book provides information and a perspective that isn't completely in line with the typical American view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was an eye-opener. It also left me feeling rather hopeless about a resolution.
AER More than 1 year ago
Tolan in this book does a marvelous job of weaving an accurate and concise history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with the human face of the tragedy. He selects a survivor of the Holocaust of European Jewry in World War II and a Palestinian family and one of its sons who lost everything in the 1948 War when Israel was reestablished. He traces the encounter of these two protagonists to the present. He writes on how they changed and suffered. The lemon tree in the Palestinian home now lived in by the Jewish family is the central heartbreaking metaphor for the entire book. It should be required reading for all people wno want to understand the conflict. AER
lefty68 More than 1 year ago
Having been familiar with some of the recent literature dealing with the Israeli/Arab conflict, I found this book to be absorbing, informative and unbiased in its approach. I could not put it down once I started reading it ot find out how it ended. I hope that many will read this book and hopefully gain a better understanding of the tragedies on both sides and hopefully work to solve some of these differences.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book is a fantastic read. It held my attention and made me want to learn more about the region and its peoples. This book does a great job in revealing the formation of Israel and the displacement of the Palestinean peoples. This book does not replace the comprehensiveness of a text book - but it does give history a heart and is a fantastic supplement.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thanks of Dr. Kevin Boyle suggestion, I read THE LEMON TREE: AN ARAB AND JEW IN THE HEAR OF THE MIDDLE EAST. I cried. The Jews for over two thousand years have been pushed from nation to nation. Jews, you liv handed here with these restrictions Yes, I could understand that one Jew could understand what it meant to be homeless espeically after the Holocaust. How one Jew and one Arab tried to make a difference The Lemon Tree gives shade and fruit to all without asking about religion or race. A Lemon Tree could become a symoble for new understanding. Drinking lemonade under its shade perhaps difference can be forgotten and a new future will take shape.
Anonymous 25 days ago
Please finish school sex
Anonymous 26 days ago
School sex part two three etc
Anonymous 28 days ago
Wow keep writeing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a detailed story of the history of the modern Israel/Palistine conflict told in the form of a historical novel. I would have liked more character developement and story line rather than such a thorough explanation of the events but the book has helped me understand the conflict and the reasons why peace is so difficult to acheive. I particularly like that there is no real bias toward either side and I come away with sadness and compassion for both sides.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
huckfinn37 More than 1 year ago
The Lemon Tree isn't a lemon. It is an good book. It is a fair minded book that leaves readers with both sides of the story. I hope someday that there will be peace. However, I am not sure that there will ever be peace. The Lemon Tree gave me much to ponder about the Middle East. I am glad that the book ended with the replanting of a lemon tree because it gave me hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was not a book that I could sit down and read for a long time but I am glad I took the time to read it. It was recommended by 3 different people whose opinion I respect so I figured it was worth the time. It will give you a new perspective of the Israel / Palestine conflict.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Octlow More than 1 year ago
A great book that follows the lives of 2 individuals (Dalia Ashkenazi and Bashir Al-Khayri), their families, and a common home they both lived in at different times. The book begins with the year of 1948 in Palestine in the town of al-Ramla (later referenced as Ramla by Jewish inhabitants) and Israel’s Independence e or in the Palestinian view, called the Catastrophe. Bashir and his family had resided in al-Ramla for 12 centuries until 1948 when they were forced from their homes, shoved to a refugee camp and continue to reside to this very day. Dalia Ashkenazi is a newborn, a refugee from Bulgaria that immigrates with her parents to Palestine during the Zionist Movement. Consequently the home in al-Ramla one day occupied by Bashir Al-Khayri and his parents and siblings, in 1948 becomes the possession of Dalia Ashkenazi and her family which they occupy. I felt this is one of the first books that has given an open and unbiased look at the history and conflict of the birth of Israel as an independent state. I was also left with the feeling that there will never be a resolution to this situation. And finally I was struck by the ruthless and viciousness of Israel and its people. Once you read the book you may notice that the Palestinians since 1948 have been treated the same way as the Jews were treated by Nazi’s during WW II. Very sad summary of a peoples group.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago