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The Movie Lemon Tree

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 28.11.2008:


Luisa Morgantini’s introduction to the Italian Press-book of the movie

(from a mailing of Morgantini 28-11-2008)

LEMON TREE directed by Eran Riklis


by Luisa Morgantini

Vice-President of the European Parliament

One of the founders of the International network Women in Black against war and violence and the International Women’s Commission

How many emotions in this movie? How many truths? Even the trees are suffering in Palestine.

When Teodora Movies contacted me in order to talk about this new movie by Eran Riklis entitled Lemon Tree, I thought of another story told in a book, about an old Palestinian man who, seriously ill, decided to visit his home in Ramleh, from where he was forced to escape in 1948. His son accompanied him. A woman opened the door of his childhood home and did not drive him away; on the contrary she let him in and he asked her if he could see if there was still the lemon tree in the garden: it was still there, he asked for a lemon and he held it tight. The lemon was still in his hand one week later, when he died. The woman, who really exists, is called Dalia, and now that home has been transformed into a school for Israeli students of Palestinian origin and for Israeli Jews.

And I, in my little garden, I planted a lemon tree and a olive tree. I did so thinking of all those farmers, those women and men, whom I saw crying during all these years, either screaming or weeping silently. All of them crying because of the pain of seeing their trees uprooted and let die, but also stolen and sold in the markets of Tel Aviv, such as olive trees uprooted in Kalkiliaa area. Thousands and thousands of trees were uprooted and replaced by the wall or the roads that cross the occupied territories and that can be used exclusively by the Israelis, like a true apartheid system.

Like Dalia, Mira in Lemon Tree, who is the wife of the Defence Minister, also perceives the pain and the injustice suffered by Salma, and she can no longer live in that home from where she can no longer see the lemon tree but only a big grey wall. She will leave with the weight of her loneliness and suffering, but proud, while on the other side Salma burns things from her past. This illustrates the madness of that land. Thanks to Eran for this movie that makes feelings come alive and shows the weaknesses, the hypocrisies, but also the humanity of both parties, as well as the asymmetry of those who have the power and the military force and those who suffer humiliation and dispossession. And he sheds light on the great dignity and resistance of both women.

Like the Israeli Women in Black who, since the first Intifadah, have stood in silence, dressed in black every Friday in a square of West Jerusalem saying “No” to the military occupation and who together with several Palestinian women, gathered in the Jerusalem Link, refuse to be “enemies”, but try to build something together in recognition of every woman’s right to freedom and emancipation. In Italy we have also contributed to this movement and to the construction of an International network of Women in Black (Donne in Nero) against war and violence, that acts in times of conflict and builds relationships and exchanges among women in places of war and violence, such as in Colombia, in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, India, Congo, Kurdistan and many other places. And again, together with Palestinian, Israeli and International women, we created the first International Women’s Commission, in order to put into practice the 1325 UN resolution for the participation of women in negotiations. This commission is composed 20 Palestinian women, 20 Israeli women and 20 International women. Among these women, among us, are women who hold important institutional responsibilities but also activists, women who want peace, but a peace that includes justice. There are many people in Palestine and in Israel, and not only the women’s movements, who believe in peace and refuse violence: the actions carried out by these movements represent hope, strength, humanity. Our governments and the International Community should be listening to them in order to put an end to the Israeli occupation and to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis can live independently in peace and security, with no walls, no settlers, and so that lemon trees, olive trees and all other species can flourish and not be the subject/object of disputes.

This was also the wish of Hagar, one of the founders of the Israeli Women in Black, who died in on an island in Greece. The day before her death, we were looking at the olive trees, beautiful and luxuriant. «It’s wonderful – said Hagar with sadness – to see the olive trees without being afraid that a bulldozer will uproot them in order to make space for a settlement or a bypass road ». We, as women in black, renamed the square in West Jerusalem where we demonstrate every Friday for the last twenty years, Hagar Roublev Square.

I sincerely wish that everyone, men and women alike, will see this movie.


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