In the summer of 1967, just after the Six Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramla, in Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families having been driven out some twenty years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face; and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir, was met by a young woman called Dalia, who invited him in. This poignant encounter is the starting point for the story of two families caught up in the fraught history of the region. In the lemon tree his father planted in the backyard, Bashir sees dispossession where Dalia, who arrived as an child refugee in 1948, sees hope. As both are swept up in the fates of their people, and Bashir is jailed for his alleged part in a supermarket bombing, the friends do not speak for years. They finally reconcile and convert the house into a day-care centre for Arab children of Israel, and a centre for dialogue between Arabs and Jews. Written with grace and compassion, The Lemon Tree is a reminder of all that is possible in the most troubled of regions.
Sandy Tolan is a journalist, teacher and documentary radio producer. He has reported from more than 30 countries, particularly in the Middle East, but also Latin America, the Balkans and Eastern Europe. He has produced dozens of radio documentaries and has written for more than 40 newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. Much of his focus has been on land, water, natural resources, ethnic conflict and indigenous affairs. He was a 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and an I.F. Stone Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, where he now teaches international reporting. n writing The Lemon Tree (which began life as a radio documentary) he conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with Dalia and Bashir, as well as speaking to hundreds of other people, in six languages over the course of seven years.