“The Lemon Tree” Essay
Film Viewing Assignment The film that I watched is called “The Lemon Tree” directed by Eran Riklis. The actors spoke in both Arabic and Hebrew, as its plot involved both Palestinians and Israelis. The film took place in the West Bank, Palestine.
A middle-aged Palestinian widow named Salma Zidane lives on a property that belongs to her great grandparents. On this property is a field of lemon trees planted by her grandparents themselves when they were alive. This field provides her with a steady source of income and, I believe, a hidden sense of pride.
In the film, she gets new neighbors living right across from her. They live exactly on the green line border between Israel and the West Bank. To her disadvantage, her new neighbor is the Israeli Defense Minister and his family. Not to my surprise however, the Defense Minister declares Salma’s field of trees as a threat to the Minister’s safety and quickly tries to initiate an order to uproot them. So, in turn, Salma tries to fight this order. She calls upon Ziad Daud, a young lawyer, to help her save her trees.
What greatly interested me, however, was the invisible bond that had developed between Salma and the Minister’s wife, Mira Navon. This woman was portrayed as unhappy with her life in her new house and feels bad for Salma and her situation. They come from two separate worlds, yet they share similar feelings as individuals, rather than as Palestinians and Israelis. This was something I had hoped all viewers would notice and take into regard. Most of the time, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is never viewed as neutral.
Both peoples are criticized, and in my belief, the Palestinians are targeted more harshly than the Israelis. Yet my point is that it is refreshing to see representatives from both parties seen as individuals who struggle with everyday problems, rather than entire minorities battling this ongoing situation. For the most part, this film did a great job of capturing life in Palestine and some Israel from a physical standpoint. It captured everything that I, as a Palestinian, am used to seeing.
The entire plot was unique yet very accurate in its depiction of what the Israelis will do to sabotage the people and land that mark the very existence of a once peaceful Palestinian state. However, I did not appreciate the romance that occurred between Salma and her lawyer, Ziad. This is completely inaccurate of the Palestinian mentality. Since this was an independent film about a conflict that not many people are completely aware of, viewers will subconsciously or even consciously get a solid idea as to how the Palestinians behave from it.
As I know them, Palestinians are very respectful people. They respect themselves and as far as being men and women, they know where they stand. Though a person can argue that Salma felt vulnerable due to the situation that she was in and the fact that she had no man in her life to really comfort her, one has to understand that there are so many Palestinian families that have lost their husbands/wives/ siblings/kids and they do not invoke shame onto whatever is left of their family through romantic affairs.
Yes, she was depressed, and yes she is alone, but the typical Palestinian woman will look to God, not another man, to help her get through her problems. Granted, this film does not depict the entire minority as a whole, but it is implied that Salma represents them. So being the representation of the Palestinians, she is scandalous and insecure. Meanwhile, the Israeli family is very clean and well-kept. They are shown as happy and celebrative at their house-warming party; While Salma and the visitors that we see are quite depressing.
In class, we have very briefly discussed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is an extremely controversial and sensitive issue, for we couldn’t even make it through twenty minutes on the subject without having a very defensive intruder raise his voice in the class. Though we have learned that both the Jews and the Arabs have inhabited this land since a time that anthropologists cannot even track, it is still appalling to me how such people can be so inhumane. There is so much evidence, when searched for correctly and accurately, that the Palestinian existence is weakening.
Cities are being attacked, villages demolished or evacuated, bombings, and families being destroyed are all brutal factors of the evidence. It is distinctly known through the Middle East that Israelis are destroying olive and lemon trees that are hundreds of years old. What is the point of this? To what extent is this humane and indicative of their desire for peace? Just typing about the topic enrages me. This film, produced by an Israeli, could have done a better job of portraying the Palestinians as stronger people. Though there are some nice aspects about the film, there is a lot that I would have changed.