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

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  4,642 ratings  ·  917 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, 384 pages
Published April 17th 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
10th out of 184 books — 475 voters
ثلاثية غرناطة by رضوى عاشورAzazil by Youssef Ziedanواحة الغروب by بهاء طاهرThe Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al AswanyThe Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz
Best Middle East Fiction
52nd out of 207 books — 225 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sue
Jul 18, 2011 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Jan Rice
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
Caroline
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...more
Vicki
Jul 15, 2007 Vicki rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
ellen
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...more
David Lloyd
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...more
Sherry
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...more
Donna
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...more
Laurel
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...more
David
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
Chris
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...more
Marwa
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
Catherine  Mustread
Nov 25, 2010 Catherine Mustread rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Carrie Kent
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
Betsy
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...more
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.
thewanderingjew
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...more
Donna
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.
Elisa
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
Resistance is Futile
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
Karen
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
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...more
Dina
'Before dawn onnovember 13, 1966, Israeli planes, tanks and troops attacked the West village of Samu, blowing up dozens of houses and killing twenty-one Jordanian soliders. The invasion, especially in its massive scale, shocked even some supporters of Israel. U.S. officials immediately condemned the attack. In Washington, the head of National Security Counsil, Walt Rostow, in a memo to President Johnson, declared that the "3000-man raid with tanks and planes was all out of proportion to the prov...more
Marius
This is a genuinely compelling book; painful to read, yet also beautiful. It is a history lesson, brought to life through the two families at the center of the story: the Palestinian Khairis and the Jewish Eshkenazis.

Other reviews have discussed whether the book is balanced between the two sides. Some say it is fairly balanced; some say it leans toward the Palestinian side. My claim is that there is no such thing as a "balanced" way to recount the history or the present situation in Palestine,...more
Sharon Roy
Many years ago, in a little town called al-Ramla, an Arab family built themselves a beautiful stone house and planted a lemon tree in the back yard. In 1948, that family, including the 6 year old Bashir, were forcible evacuated from their home and marched over land to live in town and a home not their own. Only months later, a Jewish family from Bulgaria moved into the home. With them was their 1 year old daughter, Dalia.

This book is the story of how the lives of an Arab and Israeli came to int...more
Christine
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...more
Sylvia
Today I celebrated with two of my former pupils their First Holy Communion. The priest asked some of the kids what Jezus meant for him. The stammered answer of nervous kid: Jezus wants that we are nice other people. It was heartening to hear that from an 8-year old.

This afternoon I finished De Citroenboom aka The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East. If there's one book I would be required reading for every politician in the Middle-East and beyond, it is this book.
Why c...more
Leslie
Not a light read, but certainly an important one. The Lemon Tree intertwines the history of Palestine and Israel with the individual stories and histories of a Palestinian family and a Jewish family. Bashir, a Palestinian young man meets Dalia, a young Jewish woman in 1967 when he returns to his childhood home after his family was driven out in 1947. Over the next decades, Bashir and Dalia develop a relationship through which they each seek to understand and be understood in their own feelings a...more
Jill
Dec 22, 2010 Jill rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jill by: Charlie Riley recommended the movie
For anyone who wants to understand the complex nature of the Israel/Palestine conflict, this is a wonderful book. It provides excellent historical background, (up to 2005) but also the true story of an Israeli woman, Dalia, and a Palestinian man, Bashir, who grew up in the same house--he before the Israeli expulsion in 1948 and she after her family moved from Bulgaria post WWII into his "abandoned" family's home. The two become acquainted when, as a refugee in Ramallah, Bashir goes back to see h...more
~ToniG~
This is a good but sad book to me.

The reason why I like it was because it did not stick to one sided opinions to me. It gave an oral history from both sides of the border, as you will.

I do not want to go into the politics and my opinion on the subject (I must certainly have one). I will just say that this is a good read for those who are searching for a bit of oral history from an Arab and a Jew. About a struggle to gain back pride and about not losing a land that means so much for too many pe...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Middle East/North...: The lemon tree by Sandy Tolan - Palestine/Israel 61 66 Jul 27, 2011 02:26AM  
  • Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
  • Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape
  • In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story
  • Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland
  • The Yellow Wind
  • The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East
  • Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs & Israelis 1956-78
  • City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa
  • Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians
  • A Border Passage: From Cairo to America – A Woman's Journey
  • Blood Brothers
  • In the Land of Israel
  • My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq
  • Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation
  • Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide
  • Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, Revised and Updated
  • Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries
  • Gate of the Sun
87701
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...
Me and Hank: A Boy and His Hero, Twenty-Five Years Later Children of the Stone: The Healing Power of Music in a Hard Land Children of the Stones

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »