As the reader delves further into the story, they begin to experience the weariness of the people impacted by the events in the story, whether it be the Palestinian refugees or the Holocaust survivors, a weariness over the atrocities experienced by the Jews in Europe, over the displacement of millions of Palestinian refugees, the weariness over the constant, never-ending cycle of violence has blighted the Levantine, a whirlpool of death and destruction which has submerged the lives of millions, remnants of which occasionally float-up, like the story of Bashir and Dalia depicted in ‘The Lemon Tree’.
Dalia is a Bulgarian Jew whose family flees to Israel after the Second World War and who moves into a beautiful house with a lemon tree. She doesn’t really question why the previous occupiers would choose to leave their home, instead choosing the believe the lies perpetuated by the Israeli government about the Arab owners fleeing their homes in an act of cowardice, until she meets Bashir, the son of the previous occupant. In many ways Bashir and Dalia act as mirror images of each other; both are driven by a humanistic drive for justice, both are unafraid to challenge prevailing notions of right and wrong, both are courageous in the truest sense of the word in their pursuit of the truth. However, they are hopelessly divided by the wall of privilege which exists between them both figuratively and, later, literally. Bashir and his family have had their homes, livelihood, humanity and freedom taken away from them, whereas Daisy occupies the privileged position in Israel of being both a Jew and White. Bashir is trapped in a constant cycle of incarceration and exile, whereas Daisy is free to pursue whichever path she chooses in life.
Yet, despite this, Bashir and Dalia represent hope; a hope that these differences can be overcome by honest dialogue, by compromise and by the three a’s which Dalia references: acknowledgement, apology and amends. Yet all three need to be done in a sincere and meaningful way. Although the lemon tree which once stood in the courtyard of the Khairi family home has long withered, perhaps there is hope that a tree of justice and peace can grow from the pain and suffering experienced by both Jews and Arabs over the last century and peace can be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians.