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The Almond Tree    by Michelle Cohen Corasanti order for
Almond Tree
by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Order:  USA  Can
Garnet, 2012 (2012)
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

A poor Palestinian family tries to eke out an existence in a small village targeted for destruction by the Israelis.

Ichmad, the oldest of six, is intellectually gifted, but because he must provide for his family while his father is imprisoned and their home has been destroyed, there seems no way that he will be able to get the education he needs. Somehow, though, he wins a scholarship to the Hebrew University, and with dogged determination, despite much harassment and prejudice, he not only succeeds in changing his life, but in addition, his professor, a Jew, becomes his closest mentor and research partner.

It is Ichmad's father who teaches him that the Israelis persecuting Palestinians are human beings just like his people and that politics is what drives a wedge between them. Even so, whenever Ichmad returns to his roots he despairs of being able to do anything to ameliorate his people's distress.

Michelle Cohen Corasanti has written a searing account of Palestinian suffering with an ending that for Ichmad is quite idealized but for both Israelis and Palestinians is quite on the mark: 'Cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis offers the only real hope for peace.'

In her frontispiece to The Almond Tree the author quotes Rabbi Hillel: 'That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary and now go study.' If only the people and governments in that beleaguered area would follow this maxim.

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