Filed under: arts/culture, politics | Tags: 1948, 1967, Bashir Khairi, compromise, Dalia Eshkenazi, hope, Lod, Open House, peace, posted by aklionsky, Ramle, Sandy Tolan, The Lemon Tree, בית פתוח
Looking for some summer reading? Try,The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan, a story of a young Palestinian man (Bashir Khairi) and a Bulgarian-Israeli woman, Dalia Eshkenazi.
Before Tolan wrote the book, however, the story was recorded as a radio documentary, which you can listen to here: http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org/audio_library_2001.asp
Dalia’s family escapes from Bulgaria to Palestine when she is a toddler. After the war in 1948, they move to a house (with a lemon tree in the back yard) in Ramle, which had been an Arab neighborhood. In 1967, when Israel acquired the territories, the soldiers weren’t guarding the borders (they were fighting or guarding the new borders), giving Arab families who had left in 1948 the opportunity to see what their old homes were like. Bashir (a few years older than Dalia) had lived in Dalia’s house before Israel was established, and in 1967 he knocked on Dalia’s door. She was 19, and home alone, and made the decision to open the door for the young man; she had often thought about whose house she was living in, and although she was told they were the Arabs’ houses, wasn’t satisfied by that answer.
The story, then, is the story of their relationship and of the house. Dalia and Bashir become friends and, while they have their problems and disagreements (often disagreements that threaten their friendship) the end of the story provides hope that maybe, if we find a way to acknowledge others and work together, we’ll be able to work this out.
I won’t reveal the ending; I highly suggest you pick up a copy of the book. It’s very well-written, switching perspectives and yet never sounding biased, which is something that’s hard to find on controversial topics.
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