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

Version: Unabridged
Author: Sandy Tolan
Narrator: Sandy Tolan
Genres: History, Biography & Memoir, Middle East
Publisher: HighBridge Company
Published In: April 2006
# of Units: 9 CDs
Length: 11 hours
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In 1967, not long after the Six Day War, three young Arabs ventured into the town of Ramla, in Jewish Israel. They were on a pilgrimage to see their separate childhood homes, from which their families had been driven out nearly twenty years before during the Israeli war for independence. Only one was welcomed: Bashir Al-Khayri was greeted at the door by a young woman named Dalia.

This act of kindness in the face of years of animosity and warfare is the starting point for a remarkable true story of two families, one Arab, one Jewish; an unlikely friendship that encompasses the entire modern history of Israelis and Palestinians and that holds in its framework a hope for true peace and reconciliation for the region.

Reviews (3)

Inspiring and informative

Written by Ziggie from Irvine, CA on December 16th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Excellent book, especially for those of us who know little about the history of the Arab/Jew conflict. Reads in parts like a history book, in fact I had a hard time following for the first three CDs with so much hisorical info, but it's well worth the patience.

Heartfelt, But Not Totally Honest

Written by Mandi Scott Chestler from Lake Oswego, OR on April 26th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Surely, Sandy Tolan made a sincere effort to be objective about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Lemon Tree", the true story of an Israeli and a Palestinian who both claim ownership of the same home, is heartbreaking. Sadly, Tolan is a tad disingenuous, eliminating inconvenient facts and perpetuating harmful myths. For instance, Tolan neglects to inform that Jews have lived uninterrupted in their Holy Land for over 3700 years. He omits emphasizing that had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, there would be no Palestinian refugees because an independent Arab state would exist beside Israel. Lastly, he gives readers the inaccurate impression that the terrible evacuation of Arabs in the Ramle-Lod area, by Israeli troops protecting their flanks, was common practice, rather than an ugly exception to the Israeli army order issued July 6, 1948 stating, "Arab towns and villages were not to be demolished or burned, and that Arab inhabitants were not to be expelled from their homes."

The Lemon Tree

Written by Ray from Encinitas, CA on February 12th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

If the description from the book jacket interests you at all, then I don't think you'll be disappointed. Without being a history book, full of dry facts, the story manages to provide an excellent historical background on the source of conflict and rage in the Middle East, e.g., the Palestinian Right of Return vs. Israel's right to exist. People who don't like reading history should be pleasantly surprised at how well the history of Israel / Palestine comes out through the interwoven story of the two families, one an Israeli immigrant family, and the other a displaced Arab family. And more importantly, the book manages to provide an understanding of the complexities of the issues from both the Israeli perspective, as well as from the Palestinian perspective. Finding a balanced view on this subject in one place is not an easy task, but this book does an excellent job of it. Better, in my opinion, than Stanley Ellison was able to accomplish in his book "Who Owns the Land?".

Author Details

Author Details

Tolan, Sandy

SANDY TOLAN is an author, journalist, and public radio documentary producer with extensive experience covering the Middle East. His work from the region has been honored with several prestigious awards. Tolan has written for "The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Audubon, Los Angeles Times Magainze, USA Today", and dozens of other publications.