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THE LEMON TREE: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East ~Sandy Tolan


One of the members of my book group asked us to read THE LEMON TREE for our summer gathering.  I am very glad that I was able to pull this book off my own personal library shelf, because it has been my intention to read this book for a long time.  The subject matter of the book has been a part of the news cycle for my whole life.  It is about lots of wars and about a great deal of struggle which is no closer to resolution or consensus and is still curled up in resistance and teaching the next generations new levels of hate and objectification.

I wanted to know more about Israel and Palestine and the human story of this conflict.  Tolan has created a remarkable history lesson based on an Arab man and a Jewish woman who both lived in the same house with a LEMON TREE in the back courtyard.   Bashir was born in this house that his father built and as a boy his whole family was told they must leave and were expelled from this home and not allowed the right of return.  Dalia was a baby coming to a new homeland from Bulgaria and her family was assigned this house which became her home.  Bashir and Dalia meet at their home and Dalia opens the door to a friendship and understanding.

The story is also a who’s who of all the individual names and countries involved in this conflict from Hitler to Putin and Cheney.   It highlights the troubles of the entire region and one can begin to understand the role of the ARAB SPRING experience of the last few years.  There is perspective and insight which can layer the pieces of history and begin to put the whole conflict into a container tossing the pieces around until the different outcomes are revealed.   The basic story is about little boys throwing rocks at soldiers with machine guns and tanks and how terrorism is just moving through the world at large, how it is a global problem festering within the minds of each new child born today.  It is now a central part of our cultural DNA.  The child who was tricked into playing with a bomb concealed within a toy deception has translated that explosion into each of us, we all know that loss.

I purchased this book because I felt I needed to understand.  My daughter’s friend Rachel http://www.rachelcorrie.org/   was killed in this conflict, when as a college student she went to help with the olive harvest and tried to stop a Palestine home from being destroyed by a bulldozer and was crushed to death, saving the lives of the sleeping family in the home.  The BUSH/Cheney/ Rumsfeld response to her parents, “No American was killed in this incident.”

THE LEMON TREE is about how we become polarized in our positions and when this happens there is no progression – all forward motion is stopped until the pressure builds and we have explosive responses. This is the behavior our political parties are exhibiting currently here in the United States and boldly within the Middle East; a stop action scenario to say the least.

Sixty years of loss.  THE LEMON TREE is about seeing the reality, accepting the opportunity and moving forward; understanding and ending terrorism.  THE LEMON TREE is an excellent look at history unfolding and repeating before our eyes.

If you purchase anything from Amazon http://www.amazon.com or Powell’s http://www.powells.com from this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading:
Mug Vs. Heart 
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena 
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
Margaret Fuller

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7 Responses to “THE LEMON TREE: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East ~Sandy Tolan”

  1. Talon Says:

    My youngest son is a history buff, so I’ll definitely be picking this up for his August birthday. Thank you, Patricia.

    It is sad how things get stuck and explode like that…and the saddest thing of all is, history fails to teach us what is so blatantly obvious. Maybe we should be making politicians read more history books.

  2. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I loved the title of this – sort of drew me in, then the three sub-titles .. that will show me to so much .. I’d love to read this (sometime!) ..

    However I have ordered it .. cheers Hilary
    Hilary recently posted..Horses – the counter balance to Monarchy …My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Hilary,
    I am so glad I read this book, you will not regret reading this book. It is such a personal story.

    I also came away with an understanding of the tea party movement, the religious right, and the terrorists. How polarity brings us to explosions only and truly a stalemate. I see how this polarization is hitting the UK these days too.
    Patricia recently posted..THE LEMON TREE: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East ~Sandy TolanMy Profile

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “…an Arab man and a Jewish woman who both lived in the same house with a LEMON TREE in the back courtyard.”

    WOW! This sentence alone has caused me to add this book to my must-read list!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Salt of the EarthMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Laurie,
    This is definitely a book about “If you are not changing you are choosing”.

    I do not know why I did not read it sooner, my only regret.
    Patricia recently posted..THE LEMON TREE: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East ~Sandy TolanMy Profile

  4. Sam Juliano Says:

    This appears to be one of the best books you have read and reviewed over the past months Patricia! I will be picking up a copy of it myself. It’s clear from your terrific review that one comes away deeply moved and wiser to the conflict.

    Patricia Reply:

    Sam,
    I do not know why I left it on my shelf so long and I am grateful that my book group chose it to read for the July book.

    I will say it did fit in nicely with the 4 other books I have reviewed about war and the authors’ idea sharing there too. It is definitely a good study and interesting read
    Patricia recently posted..Our Love Could Light the World ~Anne Leigh ParishMy Profile