- Taschenbuch: 560 Seiten
- Verlag: Black Swan (10. März 2008)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0552155144
- ISBN-13: 978-0552155144
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,7 x 3,5 x 19,8 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 89.857 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Lemon Tree (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 10. März 2008
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"At a time when peace seems remote and darkness deepens, this lucid, humane, hopeful book shines like a ray of light" (The Times)
"A superb, sustained piece of narrative non-fiction" (The Sunday Times)
"Extraordinary... Tolan's narrative provides a much needed human dimension to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... a highly readable and evocative history" (Washington Post)
"Reads like a novel... an informed take for anyone interested in the human stories behind a conflict" (New Statesman)
"A fascinating and highly absorbing account full of warmth, compassion and hope" (Scotland on Sunday)
The true story of a friendship spanning religious divisions and four decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflictAlle Produktbeschreibungen
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It bothered me to see that every event is reported in the news either in favour or (most often, at least in Italy) flatly against the Israelis.
This book tells both sides of History through a real story of a house which was built by a Palestinian family and ended being inhabited by an israeli family.
As the book tells it, the single members of each family are not violent people.
Most just live along fearing the other side and some hating it. But the protagonists do not hate.
They look for solutions of a problem that cannot be solved, as long as both people want the same land in exclusivity.
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Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree, has, and when you read this remarkable book your heart, too, will stretch until it is large enough to encompass the whole.
If you don't know the history of Palestine and Israel, read this book. It is a true story, but it reads like a novel. It's a page-turner that tells "Everything you ever wanted to know about the history of Israel and Palestine, but were afraid to ask."
If you know the history, but you find the subject difficult to discuss with others, read this book for back-up. Every event is documented in the extensive source notes. Arab accounts of what occurred around 1948 have long been available. Israeli Army reports of the same events were declassified only 50 years after the fact. Only since then have the disparate narratives begun to intertwine into one coherent story of what happened in 1948 and after. All of the historic phenomena are documented here from both Israeli and Palestinian sources.
If you follow the news of the region, and therefore you despair, read this book. You'll discover that hope prevails -- in the care of those who sneak across borders to knock on doors, and those who, having considered and rejected more conventional responses to presumed enemies, instead answer, "Yes. Please come in."
That said, where this book falls down is in the objectivity department. Put simply the author clearly attempted mightily to be unbiased and balanced but still allowed personal bias and spin to infiltrate the book. In its weakest form, the author's bias makes him much more likely to credit accounts favorable to the Palestinian Arabs and hostile to the Palestinian Jews* (Hereafter "Israelis"). He often sites sources and historians with a known and recognizable agenda, as well as "fringe" sources. However, this is largely forgivable because he sometimes also provides a balancing point of view to compensate or at least admits when facts are in significant dispute.
However, a worse failing is the tendency to systematically "spin" information to the determent of Israel. For example, in a later chapter on the 2nd Indefada (the riots, or uprisings, or terrorist acts, or insurgency -depending on who you ask- of 2000 and following years) he mentions the Israeli accusation that Palestinian gunmen operated from behind a screen of civilians, usually children. He goes on to say that a UN investigation revealed that this was "the exception rather than the rule." This is a case of "spin" when one considers that the UN actually confirmed that the Israeli accusation was founded in fact. To call it the "exception" is casting the evidence in light as favorable to one side as possible. In other cases, he presents facts that are generally very well established and corroborated by neutral sources or even the Arabs as "Israeli assertions." For example, he mentions villages that the Israelis cleared after capturing them in the 6Day War because "Israelis claimed" they had participated in attacks on Jewish forces during the 1948 War. He does not mention that the NY Times and the Jordanian Army also confirmed that fact. To add the phrase "Israel claims" etc. indicates that the following may not be true; it can and should be used when there is real doubt but not when all reputable (Arab, Jew, and Other) sources agree on a fact. Nor does he mention that these villagers were compensated at the time. I am not saying that there was justification for that act, which is certainly debatable, but it is revealing that it was not mentioned. It robs several of the hard questions of balance
Other times, he ignores inconvenient evidence from highly reputable or significant sources. This is a pity because often I would have liked to see his assessment of the ignored evidence. One such piece of evidence that would go to the actual heart of his book was Israeli claims that they expelled the Arab inhabitants of Lyda or Lod (a town next to the one in central to his narrative and one he discusses on multiple occasions) only after they turned on the Israelis after having surrendered to them.
After that catalogue of problems, perhaps it is surprising that I honestly recommend this book as one of two that a person MUST read in order to understand the historical context of the conflict. The other, FYI, is O'Jerusalem which, I admit, leans a bit towards the Jewish side. I also do praise the author for attempting balance even if he does not always succeed. Ideally the two books should be read one after the other as they will give the reader a very balanced view of the problem with one leaning a little towards the Arabs while the other leans a little towards the Jews.
The Lemon Tree is a griping, if flawed, personal account of the struggle that continues to have terrible ramifications 60 years after the UN voted to create a Jewish and an Arab state in Palestine.
*The Jewish population of the region were commonly referred to as "Palestinians" or "Palestinian Jews" until the creation of the Jewish State in 1948, at which point they began to be referred to as Israelis. Sorry about the nitpick, but terminology is important.
Tolan's central figures are Bashir Khairi and Dalia Eshkenazi who meet for the first time in the aftermath of the Six Day War and maintain a tenuous friendship into the 21st century. His narrative has a distinctly novelistic style. (In fact another Amazon reviewer refers to it as "a trashy, bitter novel") Tolan begins by introducing the reader to Bashir's and Dalia's parents in the 1930's and describing the societies in which they lived. As with Austen or Tolstoi, one absorbs social, historical, and political context while trying to guess where the story is leading.
For example, I learned in passing that Axis member Bulgaria did the best job of any nation in Europe of protecting its Jewish population from the Nazi death camps. One also encounters future leaders of Israel and of Fatah in unexpected places in Tolan's narrative. The order to expel the Arab inhabitants of Lydda and Ramla during the 1948 War was given by Lt. Col. Yitzhak Rabin. Abu Jihad, Arafat's right hand, who helped launch the first Intifada, was among the children expelled from Ramla.
THE LEMON TREE is not a feel-good book. Other reviewers have drawn hopeful conclusions from the relationship of Bashir and Dalia and from the planting of a new lemon tree at the house in Ramla. I am less sanguine.
Bashir Khairi, trained as a lawyer, has spent most of his adult life in Israeli prisons or in exile. The prison in Ramla where he was incarcerated was built on an olive grove which had belonged to his family for twelve generations. Bashir's conviction that the land of Israel and Palestine should be transformed into a single, secular, democratic state has few supporters among Palestineans or anywhere else in the world. Dalia continues to act on the belief that individuals behaving with good will can begin to heal the wounds that Israelis and Palestinians have inflicted on each other and upon themselves. Neither approach seems to offer a great deal of hope at the moment.
The history is weaved around the personal stories of two families who lived in the same house, and specifically two individuals in those families. We are first introduced to Bashir, whose father built the house in the town of El-Ramla and which his family occupied until they were forced out by Israeli soldiers in 1947.
we then meet Dalia, the daughter of Bulgarian parents who emigrated to Israel in 1948, and who lived in the house from 1948 on.
Following the 6 Day War in 1967, Bashir travels from Ramallah, where his family now lives, to Ramla to see the house, and is greeted by Dalia, who, after hesitating a moment, invites him in. This first encounter spawns a life-long relationship between the two, despite their ideological and political differences, and despite the widely divergent paths that their lives take.
The Lemon Tree is a powerful book. As a critical but strong supporter of Israel, I felt that the author sometimes shifted the sentiment in favor of the Palestinian cause, giving somewhat short thrift to Israel's legitimate security concerns, and to the dark policy choices it must often face given the fact that it is a tiny country surrounded by hostile nations and peoples. Nonetheless, it is difficult for even the most ardent Zionist to condone some of the tactics used by Israel to try to quell the social and political unrest both within and outside of its borders.
In many ways, The Lemon Tree is a disturbing book, insofar as it sometimes leaves the reader feeling that the chasm between the two sides will never be bridged. So long as the Palestinians insist on the right to return to the lands which they once occupied, even at the expense of dismantling the Jewish state and uprooting those who now occupy the houses and lands once belonging to Palestinian Arabs, peace seems virtually impossible to achieve.
In any event, despite the fact that the book tends to justify and rationalize the violent actions of the Palestinians fighting for their perceived rights, while taking a condemnatory view towards Israeli actions, the chief heroine of this book is Dalia, who remains a voice of compassion, empathy and reason in a sea of madness. It is a book well worth reading.