Sandy Tolan to talk April 28 on Israeli-Palestinian coexistence

Sandy Tolan

Students Crossing Boundaries and Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine will present Sandy Tolan, author of "The Lemon Tree: An Arab and a Jew in the Heart of the Middle East" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, in Feldberg Lounge, Upper Sherman.

Tolan will speak about his book on Israeli-Palestinian relations, which was published in 2006, and his more recent research on the one-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tolan is a veteran journalist who has reported from more than 30 countries, particularly in the Middle East, Latin America, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. As co-founder of Homelands Productions, he has produced hundreds of documentaries and features for public radio. He has written for more than 40 newspapers and magazines.

Since 2002, Tolan has taught international reporting and radio at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California-Berkeley. In 2007, his students won the George Polk Award for their public radio series on the early signs of climate change around the world – the first time students have been honored in the 58-year history of the awards.

Students Crossing Boundaries is a group organized in 2007 after former President Jimmy Carter's visit to Brandeis, during which Carter encouraged students to travel to Israel and the occupied territories to witness the Israeli-Palestinian conflict firsthand. In February of 2008, it made arrangements for 11 students to travel to Israel and the West Bank.

The mission of the group, according to its web site, is to empower its members and other students to observe social, cultural, economic and political conditions in various conflict zones and disseminate their experiences to the public. This year, students are traveling to the US-Mexican border region as well as to Israel and the territories.

Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine is a chartered student organization whose stated purpose is to give a voice to people “interested in promoting the Palestinian perspective, narrative and point of view on campus, and to create an outlet and framework of support for students that wish to explore the conflict.”

"The Lemon Tree" coverThe lemon tree of the title is located in the backyard of a home in Ramla, Israel, currently owned by Dalia, a Jewish woman whose family of Holocaust survivors emigrated from Bulgaria. Before Israel gained its independence in 1948, the house was owned by the Palestinian family of Bashir, who meets Dalia when he returns to see his family home after the Six-Day War of 1967.

Tolan traces the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the parallel personal histories of Dalia and Bashir and their families—all refugees seeking a home. As Tolan takes the story forward, Dalia struggles with her Israeli identity, and Bashir struggles with decades in Israeli prisons for suspected terrorist activities.

The Washington Post selected the book as a top nonfiction title for 2006. The Christian Science Monitor wrote that “no novel could be more compelling” and proclaimed, “It will be one of the best nonfiction books you will read this year.”

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage