The woman who met him at the door was Dalia Ashkenazi Landau, a 19-year-old Israeli college student, who had been a baby when her family fled Europe following the Holocaust and found their way to an abandoned stone house in Ramle, with a lemon tree in the backyard. On the stoop of their shared home, Dalia and Bashir began a rare and difficult friendship, forged in the aftermath of war and tested over the next 35 years in ways that neither could imagine on that summer day in 1967.
Based on extensive research and conversations with all the people involved, and springing from his enormously resonant radio documentary that aired on NPR's Fresh Air in 1998, Sandy Tolan brings the Israeli/Palestinian conflict down to its most human level, suggesting that even amid the bleakest political realities there exist stories of hope and reconciliation.
©2006 Sandy Tolan; (P)2006 HighBridge Company
"As they follow Dalia and Bashir's difficult friendship, readers will experience one of the world's most stubborn conflicts firsthand." (Publishers Weekly)
This book is both a "must read" and at the same time it is deeply flawed. If you are seeking an emotional and gripping account of the Middle-east conflict, this is a choice that will put a face on both sides of the conflict. It should challenge anyone who already has a position on the matter to seriously consider the point of view of the other side in a meaningful way.
That said, this book fails in the objectivity department. He clearly tried to be unbiased but still allowed bias and spin to infiltrate the book. He often sites sources with a known agenda, as well as "fringe" sources. However, this is forgivable because he also provides a balancing point of view to compensate or at least admits when facts are in significant dispute. Other times, he ignores inconvenient evidence from highly reputable or significant sources. This is a pity because often I would have liked to see his assessment of the ignored evidence. One such piece of evidence that would go to the actual heart of his book was Israeli claims that they expelled the Arab inhabitants or Lod (which he mentions often) only after they turned on the Israelis after having surrendered to them. Worse is the tendency to "spin" to the determent of Israel. For example, on the Israeli accusation that Palestinian gunmen operated from behind children. He goes on to say that a UN investigation revealed that this was "the exception rather than the rule," when the UN actually confirmed that the Israeli accusation was founded in fact. To call it the "exception" is casting the evidence in light as favorable to one side as possible.
I still recommend this book as one of two that a person MUSTread in order to understand the historical context of the conflict. The other is O'Jerusalem (leans a bit to the Jewish side). Ideally the books should be read one after the other as they will give the reader a very balanced view of the problem. The Lemon Tree is a griping, if flawed, personal account of the struggle
Generally I am not a fan of history books, but I did find this book captivating. By mixing the story of a couple of real people, the book gives the historical account of the events a human dimension. For those, like me, with no appreciation of the complexity of the situation in the middle east, this gives me a much better appreciation of the lives of people there.
The book does leave me with the sense that there is no closure... But that's not the fault of the book. Rather, it is just a simple reflection of the fact that the conflict between Israel and Palestine is on-going and there is no long-term solution in sight at this moment.
A century's worth of bird's eye and street-level views of the evolution of the tragedy that is today's Middle East seen from the perspectives of children, displaced families, world events, and the famous and infamous world leaders - both of peace and of terror - who in some way shaped what at times seems to be a cancer without a cure. You will never look at a lemon as just a lemon again. Thank you Mr. Tolan.
This is one of the best, if not one of the most gut-wrenching, books I've listened to on Audible. It is also one of the most important. And very well read.
The previous reviewer suggests that this book is biased, and I agree. Anyone who has been to the an occupied territory and knows what has happened and is happening on a daily basis there cannot help but have empathy for anyone under such cirmustances- except for a die-hard "pro-Israel" supporter it seems.
It must be said that the book is very fair to both 'sides' and there are many more than that, but the reality is that based on any empathetic reasoning of the history coupled with the present, it is only too clear that the "Palestinians have also suffered a tragic and inhumane historical injustice" as one historian has noted, and that "unless that can be admitted, there is no basis on which to begin talking about this situation."
If not before, then surely after reading this book, most people should be at that point.
Being neither Palestinian or Jew, I found this to be a refreshing view of the Middle East conflict from both Palestinian and Jewish perspectives. I like how the history is provided from both perspectives as well as the following of the main characters. It really demonstrates how both sides are right and both are wrong and only a compromise and acceptance by both sides will end the ongoing tragedy.
Years ago, I read "From Beirut to Jerusalem", Thomas Freidman's wonderful book about the Israel and Palestinian crisis, and I would put this book in the same class. It really goes a long way towards explaining the situation there, how it started, and why it remains so complicated. The author is an excellent narrator, and you can "google" him and listen to an interview about how he came upon this story. Highly recommend!
This was a great book. It shows the relationship between Palestinians and Israeli Jews in a reflective story of two friends as they grow and live their very different lives while being connected by their mutual home.
I downloaded this story without knowing anything about it. I had hoped for a novel - but this is a documentary style story. It follows a Palestinian and Bulgarian family and how the creation of Israel affected them. Although the story seems balanced - and provides critical insights into how each family regards the State of Israel - I had never heard this story from the perspective of a Palestinian. I can only say that I will no longer look at the founding of Israel the same. I now have a great sense of grief for what was done to the Palestinian people and for their ongoing despair. I also have a lot of concern over how the USA's future has been and will be affected by our unconditional support of Israel. Ultimately, I was left with much more understanding of the conflict from both sides - and a sense of deep sadness that the conflict is unlikely to be resolved in my lifetime.
This should be required reading in High School. It gives great insight into the history behind all of the violence in the Middle East.
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