Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Music & Arts

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Music & Arts

Article excerpt

"Lemon Tree" Depicts Life Under Israeli Occupation

The futility of Palestinians trying to protect their property from the juggernaut of Israeli "security" measures is sensitively portrayed in "Lemon Tree," which opened May 1 in Los Angeles and will be released nationally this summer by IFC Films.

Hiam Abbass, who co-starred in "The Visitor," is cast as Salma Zidane, a 45-yearold widow who ekes out a meager livelihood from a lemon grove her father planted a half-century earlier.

Salma's life already was bleak, but it becomes terrible when the Israeli minister of defense builds his house on the Green Line border abutting her lemon grove in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Claiming that terrorists could take cover in Salma's lemon grove, Israeli security forces order that the trees be uprooted. A fence is erected separating Salma from her beloved trees, which she is forbidden to water.

Salma's son, who works as a dishwasher in the U.S., is unable to come to her assistance. Undaunted, Salma seeks counsel from a Palestinian attorney, Ziad Daud (Ali Suliman, who co-starred in "Paradise Now").

The young attorney takes on Salma's case, and life becomes even more complicated when Salma and Ziad find they are attracted to one another. Salma is warned by a village elder not to become too familiar with her unmarried lawyer.

On the other side of the grove, the defense minister's wife observes Salma's futile attempts to tend to her dying lemon trees, and begins to question her husband's callous treatment of the Palestinian widow. Considering this a departure from reality, Samir Twair asked the son of a former Israeli defense minister if his mother would sympathize with a Palestinian woman. His response was negative.

Eran Rudis, who won 18 international awards for his film "The Syrian Bride," wrote, directed and produced "Lemon Tree," which garnered prizes in the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, and Israeli Academy Awards.

- Pat McDonnell Twair

Mithila Painting at CARAM

Mithila paintings from India's central state of Bihar arrived in Los Angeles in April and will be on view through Sept. 13 at the Crafts and Folk Art Museum, 5814 Wilshire Blvd.

Under the title of "Ancient Gods and Modern Politics," the exhibition demonstrates how the Mithila women painters concentrated on traditional topics of life cycles and domestic rituals until mid-2000, when they began to express personal concerns and critique society, whether regarding the plight of immigrant workers or women aborting baby girls. …

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