Restorative Justice and the Middle East

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Sandy Tolan’s Lemon Tree

by Paul S. Graham, November 26, 2009

I don’t normally recommend a book before I have finished reading it, but I will this time. Sandy Tolan’s award winning book, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East, is a delight. It is the true story of the intimate relationship that developed between two families — one Palestinian and one Israeli — and the house that both lived in, one before and the other after the 1948 expulsion of the Palestinians and founding of the state of Israel.

The Lemon Tree, which grew out of a radio documentary Tolan produced in 1998, succeeds on many levels in illuminating our understanding of the political and human dimensions of the decades-long conflict between Palestinians and Jews.

Part of the reason I’m willing to endorse this book before finishing it is that I had the pleasure of hearing and videographing the author when he spoke in Winnipeg last week. He came to Winnipeg to participate in Restorative Justice Week by telling the story of The Lemon Tree in the context of restorative justice.

Rather than report on what I learned about the stony path to peace and justice in the Middle East, I invite you to watch the video and form your own conclusions, one of which, I hope, will be to buy, beg or borrow the book.

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