Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for June 2016
June 8, 2016
Our meeting included some new members, which expanded the discussion and added new context. The book selection was The Lemon Tree: an Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of Palestine by Sandy Tolan. This non-fiction book tells the history of Palestine, with emphasis on the period from 1948 to the present. At its center are two families, one Arab and one Palestinian, who both have histories with a house in what is now Israel. An unlikely friendship develops between a young Jewish woman who currently occupies the home built by the Arab father for his family, and the young Arab student revisiting the home his family was forced to leave. The author presents a comprehensive and balanced picture of the struggle history has given both Arabs and Jews in Palestine as he develops the story of the struggle of the two characters to understand each other and to become and remain friends.
Despite differences in prior knowledge regarding the issues presented in the book, all of those reading it appeared to see it as a very worthwhile addition to their understanding. Some felt the book would be a good tool for use in education in high school or college. The discussion also drew parallels between the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and other conflicts throughout history, especially with colonialism as a backdrop.