i just finished reading this incredible book that was recommended to me by my good friend, Steve Graybill, who has travelled to Israel on multiple occasions and i feel has a fairly good idea of what goes on over there.
i was challenged on my blog a few months ago about not knowing what was going on with the whole Israeli/Palestinian conflict and it was totally true. It’s one of those things, as when i was growing up was the Irish Catholic vs Protestant conflict where you completely know it’s a thing and you feel like you know what’s going on but in reality actually don’t know much about it at all.
Realising that about Israel, i asked Steve for some help. Apart from sharing some thoughts on the conversation at hand, he recommended two books to me: The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan and Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour and David Hazard.
i instantly bought both of them for my Kindle app on my tablet where they lived for a number of months as i was busy with a whole lot of other books.
i read ‘The Lemon Tree’ a while back and really enjoyed it and found it helpful and somewhat educational. The main focus of the book is the story of the relationship between a Palestinian young man and an Israeli woman who at different times, live in the same house which is categorised by the lemon tree which grows in the back garden:
In 1967, Bashir Al-Khayri, a Palestinian twenty-five-year-old, journeyed to Israel, with the goal of seeing the beloved old stone house, with the lemon tree behind it, that he and his family had fled nineteen years earlier. To his surprise, when he found the house he was greeted by Dalia Ashkenazi Landau, a nineteen-year-old Israeli college student, whose family fled Europe for Israel following the Holocaust. On the stoop of their shared home, Dalia and Bashir began a rare friendship, forged in the aftermath of war and tested over the next thirty-five years in ways that neither could imagine on that summer day in 1967. Based on extensive research, and springing from his enormously resonant documentary that aired on NPR’s Fresh Air in 1998, Sandy Tolan brings the Israeli-Palestinian conflict down to its most human level, suggesting that even amid the bleakest political realities there exist stories of hope and reconciliation.
Blood Brothers on the other hand is told through the eyes and experience of Elias Chacour, from when he was a young boy forced out of the village he grew up in, to his life as a priest working for peace and unity:
Elias Chacour grew up in a small Palestinian village in Galilee. When tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and nearly one million forced into refugee camps in 1948, Chacour began a long struggle with how to live out his personal spirituality. In Blood Brothers, he blends his riveting life story with historical and biblical research to reveal a little-known side of the Arab-Israeli conflict, touching on questions such as:
•What touched off the turmoil in the Middle East?
•What does Bible prophecy really have to say?
•Can bitter enemies ever be reconciled?
They are both stories and so who knows the absolute extent of the Truth to be found in them. But i found them both to be helpful and enjoyable reads as they both explore the story and situation from both sides [as opposed to being a heavily biased one-sided affair] and for that reason alone it seems to give a decent amount of credibility and at least give you some understanding of the overall picture.
i enjoyed them both, but Blood Brothers, whose subtitle is, ‘The Dramatic Story of a Palestinian Christian working for peace in Israel’ i think i liked the most. It was a story of highs and lows, that demonstrated hope and moments of victory in the face of complete chaos and bewilderment and also showed glimpses of the possibility of peace between two nations in the midst of the most complicated of stories.
i would highly recommend both of them as a way of starting to educate yourself in what must be one of the most significant international conflicts of our time. i will be sharing a few brief passages from Blood Brothers, over the next few days, which i found extremely significant , so give yourself a taste.
What are YOU reading that you would highly recommend at the moment? My big unending pile of books is making its way towards completion…