Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East” as Want to Read:
The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,753 Ratings  ·  1,155 Reviews
In 1967, Bashir Al-Khayri, a Palestinian twenty-five-year-old, journeyed to Israel, with the goal of seeing the beloved old stone house, with the lemon tree behind it, that he and his family had fled nineteen years earlier. To his surprise, when he found the house he was greeted by Dalia Ashkenazi Landau, a nineteen-year-old Israeli college student, whose family fled Europ ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Lemon Tree, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Lemon Tree

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen CorasantiMornings in Jenin by Susan AbulhawaGaza Writes Back by Refaat AlareerFast Times in Palestine by Pamela J. OlsonThe Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappé
Books on the Israel Palestine Conflict
8th out of 220 books — 556 voters
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi AliThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiReading Lolita in Tehran by Azar NafisiFrom Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. FriedmanThree Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
Best Middle East Nonfiction
38th out of 294 books — 260 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 18, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: MiddleEast/NorthAfrica group
Excellent, well-written portrait of the multiple changes that have occured in the area of the Middle East known as Palestine, Israel, both to Arabs and Jews who both want to live on the same land in the same homes. History of the area from both perspectives is provided for the years leading to the declaration of Israeli independence in 1948 which changed the dynamics of the entire Middle East for all the years since.

The story is told from the perspectives of an Israel woman, Dalia, and an Arab m
Jan Rice
Mar 11, 2013 Jan Rice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an exposition of the Israel-Palestine conflict via the stories of two people, Dalia, a Jewish woman whose family immigrated when she was a baby in 1948 and Bashir, a Palestinian Arab whose family was driven out and became refugees. Dalia's family live in what had been Bashir's family's home. The lemon tree grew in the yard. The book uses their stories to tell the story of the conflict. The book does a good job of showing the personal experiences and views of all concerned. With this kind ...more
May 21, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it
Shelves: world
This book is a marvellously thorough description of the formation of Israel, and the resulting Arab-Israeli conflict.

The story follows two families – the Khairis and the Eshkenazis. The Khairis were Arabs from al-Ramla, forced by the Israelis to leave their house and their town in July 1948, as refugees. The Eshkenazis were Jews from Bulgaria, who immigrated to Israel after the Second World War. They were sent to al-Ramla for settlement, and ended up living in what used to be the Khairis’ house
David Gregory Lloyd
Nov 21, 2011 David Gregory Lloyd rated it it was ok
I found the book to be very promising in the beginning. It seeks to present a very comprehensive overview of the conflict in the Middle East, presenting both sides of the conflict through the personal experience of two people: a Palestinian Arab and an Israeli Jew.

However the book gets somewhat bogged down through an overly repetitive style. I feel that parts, that go on for pages and pages, could be much more forcefully presented in a page or two. Unlike the book - "I Shall Not Hate" - written
Jul 15, 2007 Vicki rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People with caring hearts, people and an interest in the world's peoples.
I have just finished this book, and found it to be one of the most complelling books I have ever read.

An intriguing historical account of the Palestinian/Arab - Israeli conflict through the stories of the lives of two families who are connected through having resided in the same home (the Arab family built it and was later "displaced;" -- most violently. A Jewish family from Bulgaria comes to live there, newly arrived in Israel after World War II. A Lemon Tree grows in the back yard.

In 1967, a
Jan 27, 2014 thewanderingjew rated it liked it
This is the true story of Dalia, a Bulgarian Jew, and Bashir, a Palestinian Arab. Both were uprooted from their homes for different, but related reasons; one was uprooted because of the Holocaust in Europe and the other because of the founding of the state of Israel which resulted from the heinous acts committed against Jews during the Holocaust. It must be mentioned here that the Arabs of Palestine supported Hitler and his Holocaust. They had a common enemy: Jews and Great Britain.
Both people c
Apr 23, 2007 ellen rated it really liked it
I agree with the person who says required reading for anyone who lives in this world.

The Lemon Tree is the history of modern day Palestine and Israel. It is written in a Palestinian voice by an individual who was displaced from his home as a child but who I think remains fairly balanced in his viewpoint and presentation.

The book is also about an uncanny friendship between this Palestinain and his dear friend who was the child of a family that relocated to Israel after WWII to find a new freedo
Oct 01, 2015 LemonLinda rated it really liked it
The centuries long conflict between the Jewish and Arab people and of the Israeli/Palestine conflict has dominated headlines for years and many books - fiction and non-fiction - many of which are slanted to one side or the other, have been written on this topic. This book, however, tells a true story and seems to honestly give the story as it unfolds without leaning heavily toward one side of the conflict.

It is told in the voices of Dalia, an Israeli, and Bashir, an Arab, who have both lived in
Jan 15, 2015 Ram rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A book about the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
I am really not sure what to write about it. It opened my eyes and gave me a perspective of the conflict that I have not seen (or maybe chose not to see). I won't say that it changed my perspective completely but it did raise allot of questions about the history of my country and the role of the Palestinians. Or to be more precise the role of the Zionist movement in the situation of the Palestinians.
The book tells the story of the friendship that w
Jul 12, 2012 Sherry rated it it was amazing
I loved/hated this book. The Washington Post nailed it tagging it "an extraordinary book...A sweeping history of the Palestinian-Israeli conundrum...highly readable and evocative."

Thank you, Laurie Williamson, my Tuscaloosa/Boone doctora hermana, for recommending it. Thank you, Fulbright Scholarships for awarding her one in Lebanon increasing her curiosity of the area and her front-line understandings.

Thank you, Sandy Tolan, for all your research, your passion and your ability to write this book
Imen Benyoub
Mar 05, 2016 Imen Benyoub rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: palestine
An extraordinary, well written, unforgettable life changing re read..
Feb 16, 2010 Laurel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
When it comes to the details and complicated history of the Israeli/Palestine conflict, I am admittedly shamefully ignorant. I was always aware of the conflict in a general sense of course, but I never took the time to really research it beyond what I heard on the news or remembered learning in school (which was very little).

Not that this book qualifies as research, of course, but it was a good starting point, and I found it quite informative and eye opening.

I read some reviews of the book both
Catherine  Mustread
Nov 25, 2010 Catherine Mustread rated it liked it
Recommended to Catherine by: Marsha Jones
Great job of presenting both sides of the Palestine/Israel ongoing conflict in a factual and human way. I feel more informed about the history of the area, particularly the Arab perspective and have increased my sympathy toward the Palestinians. However the likelihood of a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict seems even less likely to me after reading about the strong feelings of each group. Dalia appears to be a representative of minority feelings in Israel while Bashir is a repres ...more
May 29, 2007 Betsy added it
Recommends it for: everyone
I just finished this book last night. It is a true story. It tells of the experiences of an Arab family and a Jewish family who shared the same house in Palestine/Israel....though not at the same time obviously.
About 6 months after the 6 Day War, Bashir and 2 of his friends board a bus to cross the border into Israel to visit the homes they had grown up in. Dalia, a Jewish woman who immigrated to Israel from Bulgaria as a child, opened the door to the 3 Arabs and a lifelong conversation began. M
Mar 01, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
I did the audio on this and I think that altered my perception of this book. So as the book began, I realized it sounded familiar ...then it dawned on me that I actually read this about 4 years ago and I remembered liking it. So I continued on with the audio.

I am not a fan of authors reading their own work for audiobooks. It usually is never a good idea. But I was grateful he had a pleasant voice. But there was also something I didn’t like about his voice. Somewhere at the beginning of the 3rd
Nov 22, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
For anyone interested in the history of Palestine, this is an absolutely gripping book, a profoundly insightful consideration of the birth of Israel in 1948 and the Arab / Israeli conflict before and since. The carefully documented history describes an Arab family forced to leave a home they built (and the lemon tree they planted in the back yard) when Jewish immigrants move into the country. The Jewish family loves the home and builds their own memories there. When the son of the Arab family re ...more
Nov 02, 2009 Christine rated it it was ok
This is the story of Dalia and Bashir. Dalia lives in the house where the lemon tree grows in the backyard. Back in the day when Israel was just formed, Bashir's family was kicked to the curb and thrown out of their house, since they were no longer allowed to live in the new Israel. They all lived in tents and stuff. Their lives sucked.

Dalia and the Jewish people of the new Israel just walked through the streets and got to claim whatever house they wanted back in the day. Dahlia's family really
Jun 23, 2010 Monk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Now I know why wolves would rather eat through their own legs than stay in a trap. Awwwwwful. First, Tolan reads the book himself, and he has a bad case of NPR voice. Do not operate vehicles or heavy machinery while listening to this book. Second, the contents. Tolan mixes history of the "Palestine" crisis writ large with history writ small in the lives of two individuals, one a Jew and the other an Arab. Their stories could have been summarized on a post-it note with room to spare. The book get ...more
Originally produced for a NPR, this book chronicles two families, one Palestinian and the other Israeli, as they deal and interact with the conflict. Dalia's family has, in fact, moved into the house that Bashir's family owned. The book is about the struggle of both Dalia and Bashir to come to terms with the world that they find themselves in.

I suppose one could say that the book is focused more on the Palestinian issue, but Dalia, the Israeli, is not shown as blind to what happened and her view
One of the most accurate accounts on the formulation of the Israeli state and the circumstances that led to it. An unbiased narrative that reads like a novel, beautifully put together in a coherent manner from both sides. The deportation of Jews from Hitler's Europe and the Palestinian diaspora that followed inflamed the ongoing bitterest conflict the world has ever witnessed. An unlikely friendship between two people from not only two different backgrounds but also of two conflicting interests ...more
Carrie Kent
Apr 07, 2013 Carrie Kent rated it really liked it
I read this book because my son had to read it, and I am so grateful that I did. It's an enormously powerful book about the complex and often strained relationship between a Palestinian Arab Bashir, and the daughter of Bulgarian Jews, who moved into the house Bashir's father had built, after the Arab Palestinians were removed from a small town. Incredibly, these two people managed to reach across the political divide, and maintain an uneasy friendship for over 35 years. It's a remarkable and tru ...more
Mar 06, 2016 Ryan rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
A very slanted take on the struggle where the only people who get a voice are a Palestinian terrorist, an Israeli peacenik, and the leftist academic author. Every poor decision by an Arab leader is justified and every choice by an Israeli leader is stated flatly in the most damning way. Tolan delves deep into accounts to cherry-pick the most favorable items for Palestine and skims over complicated events to highlight the darkest side of the Israelis.

The conflict is a bad situation; I feel for t
Scribble Orca
Fairly meticulously researched. What is refreshing in this madness is that Tolan tells the story through the eyes of real people and lets the reader decide what to think - of course the subjectivity is present in Tolan's choice of which stories to tell, but he makes a very brave and thorough attempt to be as unbiased as possible.

Worth reading unless you cannot put aside your own prejudices about this topic.
Feb 07, 2009 Donna rated it liked it
This was a difficult book to read but it humanized the war in the Middle East. An interesting true story which helps to explain the war somewhat. Both sides feel totally entitled to the land and rightfully so. Unfortunately, they are not willing to share or compromise so both sides lose and will continue to lose. Sad.
Jun 28, 2016 Adriana rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Here is what this book is about: a house with a lemon tree in the backyard where two families live in during two different time periods. They are supposed to be enemies but life brings them together and against all odds they form a peculiar friendship. So, we learn about this very long and painful clash called the Arab-Israeli conflict that is actually still going on today.

I liked it very much. Although it was politically charged, The lemon tree is very interesting. As I read it, I felt like I
Apr 13, 2016 Christine rated it really liked it
What an informative read! After reading this book, I'm a bit ashamed to admit how little I previously knew about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This book did a very thorough job of exploring the major events in the conflict between these two groups since WWII. The book was a bit heavier on history than I would have thought based on the description, but I appreciated that. It bogged down a bit in the middle, where it loses the narrative of Dalia and Bashir (the people at the center of the stor ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Elisa rated it it was amazing
If you want a thorough, fair, and genuinely unbiased text about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the middle east, specifically at it's flashpoint over Israel, this book is EXACTLY what you are looking for. Normally, I reserve 5 stars only for those books that I would definitely read again. Well, I'm not sure I'd really read this one again because it is so dense (good be a VERY good textbook for a class on the middle east), but it was soooooo good that I couldn't in good faith deny it that 5th ...more
Aug 05, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Sep 05, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing
An eye-opening must read for everyone to obtain unbiased facts. Using a real Jewish and a real Palestinian family, the author blends in interviews and well substantiated research to provide this thorough historical account that inadvertently shows the prejudices and lack of knowledge of the Western world when dealing with this issue. Both the Zionist and Palestinian narratives are provided showing the origins of the conflict and the reasons the conflict continues. Detailed accounting of the appa ...more
Regina Lindsey
Jan 17, 2016 Regina Lindsey rated it really liked it
Today's environment surrounding relations between Israelis and Palestinians is a complex history and has far reaching consequences. While events in the Middle East are often discussed in the context of public policy, the fact is these histories have impacted the courses of lives for two distinct cultures. To illustrate this Tolan has chosen to share the details of the lives of two families with a shared history connected to a home at ground zero of the conflict.

There are a lot of wonderful thin
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan 1 13 Apr 17, 2016 06:47PM  
Middle East/North...: The lemon tree by Sandy Tolan - Palestine/Israel 61 82 Jul 27, 2011 02:26AM  
  • Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
  • The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish/Arab Divide
  • Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland
  • Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape
  • Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs & Israelis 1956-78
  • In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story
  • Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories
  • The Yellow Wind
  • Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide
  • In the Land of Israel
  • Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation
  • Blood Brothers
  • Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege
  • On the Hills of God
  • Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians
  • City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa
  • It's Easier To Reach Heaven Than The End Of The Street: A Jerusalem Memoir
  • I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity
Sandy Tolan is a teacher and radio documentary producer. He is the author of two books: Me and Hank: A Boy and His Hero, Twenty-Five Years Later (Free Press, 2000), about the intersection between race, sports, and American heroes; and The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East (Bloomsbury, 2006). The Washington Post called the book “extraordinary” and selected it among their ...more
More about Sandy Tolan...

Share This Book

“understanding can only come from a recognition of each other's history.” 1 likes
“The "spectacular" operations of the PFLP, meanwhile, began to attract legions of young Europeans, who saw in the airline hijackings a willingness to risk everything to achieve liberation. This was a time not only of cold war, but of revolution, inspired in part by massive and worldwide street protests against” 0 likes
More quotes…