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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  11,255 ratings  ·  1,646 reviews
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 P
Hardcover, 362 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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Vickie Yes. Highly researched and vigorously annotated.

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  11,255 ratings  ·  1,646 reviews

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Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian-history, war
Just finished this book and it is a fantastic read and a great insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, For anyone interested in understanding the conflict that is going on I think this is a great book to start with. However I did find parts of the book tedious and that is why I gave it four stars instead of 5 although when finished I was so glad I stayed with it as I feel that I now have a better understanding of the conflict. I had previously completed Mornings in Jenin which I enjoyed v ...more
David Gregory 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
Jan Rice
Feb 18, 2013 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 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world, 4-star-reads
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
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
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Inderjit Sanghera
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the reader delves further into the story, they begin to experience the weariness of the people impacted by the events in the story, whether it be the Palestinian refugees or the Holocaust survivors, a weariness over the atrocities experienced by the Jews in Europe, over the displacement of millions of Palestinian refugees, the weariness over the constant, never-ending cycle of violence has blighted the Levantine, a whirlpool of death and destruction which has submerged the lives of millions, ...more
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book bothers me because it tries to put both sides of the story on an even playing field. The facts are presented in such a way to try and balance the equation. But it’s not a balanced equation. There is neither outrage expressed when the Arabs rebelled nor disgust at some of the horrible actions they took. Nor is there outrage when the Irgun blew up the Hotel David and 80 people died. Without the emotion, the historical facts have no context. It is impossible to understand the “facts on th ...more
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2010 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
Apr 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
The Lemon Tree is a very fascinating read. While it contains a well-documented and thoroughly researched set of facts, it is also a very personal account of two people who have spent years agreeing to disagree. My poor description fails to do justice to their epic story. It is through their lives author Sandy Tolan puts under the microscope the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I’ve only understood this part of history through the snippets of newspaper articles and fast-paced sound bites purported t ...more
A very moving account of a friendship between two young men that illuminates the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. I read this in 2007 or 2008 and have never forgotten it.
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
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
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
Imen  Benyoub
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: palestine
An extraordinary, well written, unforgettable life changing re read..
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
At Congregation B’nai Brit, there’s a book club called Israel Between the Pages with the goal of “reading books on and from Israel”. With that in mind, the group attempts to read books with “a full spectrum of voices from the region” and determined that “it was important to read a book from a Palestinian perspective”. Therefore, The Lemon Tree was selected.

The premise for the book is promising. In short, the book tracks the parallel experiences of an Arab family and a Jewish family that lived in
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
Oct 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rep ...more
May 29, 2007 added it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carrie Kent
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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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

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