“Lemon Tree” by Eran Riklis

This article is also available in: Italiano

Lemon Tree is a classic on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film tells the legal battle of a Palestinian woman in defense of her lemon grove against the Israeli Minister of Defense, who is determined to tear it down to secure his new residence.

Lemon Tree

Salma Zidane lives in the West Bank, is 45 years old and has been alone since her husband died and her children left. When the Israeli defense minister moves to a house close to Salma’s, she engages in a legal battle with the minister’s lawyers who, for security reasons, want to cut down the age-old lemon trees in her garden.

Lemon Tree
Salma Zidane together with Abu Kamal and the lawyer Ziad Daud

But Salma won’t fight alone. In fact, in addition to the support of her lawyer – a divorced thirty-year-old with whom a deep love is born – Salma will unexpectedly also find that of the Minister’s wife who, tired of her lonely life due to her husband’s commitments, takes the case of her Palestinian neighbor to heart .

A fleeting border

The whole plot of the film (taken from a true story starring the then minister Shaul Mofaz) revolves around the concept of border, in this case very subtle. Thin like the strip of land that separates the Navon house from that of Mrs. Zidane and like the one that will divide the two Israeli spouses forever.

Lemon Tree
Shaul Mofaz

A fleeting border but one that becomes more and more space in the plot, so much the lemons are tortured, so much the separation that divides the two families grows and from a normal coexistence we will pass to a battle that is increasingly difficult to quell.

A story of women

In the end it will be the killing of lemons to mark the definitive border, that of hatred and no return. Riklis, however, chooses to leave us a hope: in fact, Mrs. Navon will leave her husband, disgusted by the arrogance.

Lemon Tree
Salma Zidane and Mira Navon

In the film, what is created between the neighbors is nothing more than a “human” relationship but which clashes with everything else, too consumed by hatred for the border. It will be the support of the Israeli lady that will smash public opinion, unfortunately not enough to have justice.

Hiam Abbas

The Palestinian actress proves perfect for the part of Salma Zidane proving once again her talent. Hiam was personally chosen by the director and it is no coincidence. In fact, in this film she manages to fully represent the pride and strength of Palestinian women, who are determined to challenge the world to get justice.

Lemon Tree
Hiam Abbas

Salma in front of the Israeli defense minister not only does not retreat but chooses to challenge him without thinking twice. It matters little that she is just a single peasant against an entire state, she wants justice and will not leave without it. A pride for all Arab women.

Lemon Tree is a film that deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a new light and perhaps that is why it is so eloquent. Raklis chooses metaphor and grace to show one of the hardest conflicts in history, the result is a film that you will remember for a long time and that you will want to talk about. Especially now.

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