The Lemon Tree

By Sandy Tolan. <i>Bloomsbury.</i> $24.95.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


In the city of Ramla, 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem, sits a limestone house that holds the histories of two families, one Palestinian, one Israeli. On July 11, 1948, following two months of bloody fighting in the wake of Israel’s declaration of statehood, the town’s Arab leaders surrendered to the Israeli army. Despite an agreement that its residents would be allowed to stay, six-year-old Bashir Khairi and his family were expelled from their home, joining the tens of thousands of Palestinians forced into Jordan’s West Bank.

Meanwhile,an infant named Dalia Eshkenazi and her parents had just arrived in Israel, part of the postwar wave of Jewish refugees eager to start new lives. When they were relocated to Ramla and told to choose one of the many vacant houses there, they picked a spacious one with a gate in the front and a lemon tree in the backyard—the Khairi home.

The Lemon Tree is not only an empathetic look at the struggles of these Holocaust survivors and Palestinian exiles, but a concise history of their competing claims for Israel and Palestine. The story of Dalia and Bashir’s first face-to-face meeting in 1967, and the remarkable four-decade friendship that has followed, illuminate the personal narratives at the heart of the conflict. Their friendship has never been easy, but both believe it is vital to their work to promote peaceful coexistence, which is centered around the house both call home. As Dalia tells Tolan, “Our enemy is the only partner we have.”


If you buy a book using the Bookshop link on this page, a small share of the proceeds supports our journalism.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate