Do you know the difference between a keffiyeh and a fez? Or are those words totally new to you? What about the term “Nakba”? If you answered ‘no’, then that makes me feel better because I didn’t know before reading this book either!
“The Lemon Tree” addresses the Arab-Israeli conflict from the 1930s on. If you can send me a word that has an edge of the hard feeling of “ignorant”, but also encompasses “its my teachers fault for not ever covering that”, then that would sum up how I felt at certain points in this book. Like, why is it so hard for me to accept that WWII had such a huge impact on Palestine as to cause this ongoing fight I grew up being (sort of) aware of? And why wouldn’t the conflict between JEWS and Palestinians have roots in a WWII-coping Palestine. It’s not called a “world war” unless it affects the majority of the world, right? Of course the mass scale migration of Jews into Palestine started at a time when they were being hunted like witches. Some world history student I was, right?!
This book is so interesting not only for the crash course in a major section of world history, but also because it’s a true story of what I’m going to christian “cultural frenemies”. Dalia and Bashir have this incredibly unique and mature connection that just leaves you wondering how they do it – how are they so kind to each other when they feel so strongly against each other at the same time. It’s the kind of stuff you really just can’t make up. **Spoiler Alert** At times I felt certain that they would either become romantic, or someone or their family member would tragically die. Neither of those happened. And still, the story is so so gripping and thought-provoking. It’s most definitely a worthwhile read.
You can also learn more by looking at Dalia and Bashir’s peace center, which I think is really amazing, for Israeli and Palestinian children here: