Lemon Tree (2008) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • The story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemontree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her lemon grove torn down.

  • Salma Zidane, a widow, lives simply from her grove of lemon trees in the West Bank's occupied territory. The Israeli defense minister and his wife move next door; the Secret Service orders the trees removed for security. The stoic Salma seeks assistance from the Palestinian Authority (useless), Israeli army (dismissive), and a young attorney, Ziad Daud, who takes the case; this older client attracts him. While the courts deliberate, the Israelis fence her trees and prohibit her from entering the grove. As the trees wither, the defense minister's wife and, separately, an Israeli journalist, look on Salma with sympathy. In this allegory, does David stand a chance against Goliath?

  • After the passing of her husband due to a weak heart, Arabic-speaking Salma Zidane, a mother of two married daughters, and a U.S.-based son, Nasser, now lives alone in West Bank's Kalkiya, her only source of income is an ancestral lemon grove. When the newly appointed Defense Minister, Israel Navon, moves next door, the area gets surrounded by Secret Service personnel, security fences, soldiers, and a watch tower. She then receives a letter in Hebrew which notifies her that the lemon trees pose a security threat, must be destroyed and she will be compensated. She then meets with people in the community and with the assistance of Russia-returned lawyer, Ziad Daud, files an appeal in the Military Court. This Court not only dismisses the complaint but also orders that the grove be fenced-in. Aggrieved, she decides to appeal to the Supreme Court, and is distressed when soldiers refuse to even permit her to water the trees, while her neighbor goes to the extent of stealing lemons. Things get even worse when an explosion takes place at her neighbor's residence during a house-warming party. Meanwhile Ziad hopes to convince the Supreme Court that the destruction of the grove not only violates international laws but also Section 53 of the Geneva Convention. But in a country that seems to have no borders, with frequent curfews and where provisions of the Intifidah Act empowers the regime to declare Palestinian-owned properties as hostile territory, confiscate lands and demolish houses to build prisons - with impunity - will she even stand a chance?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Salma, a Palestinian widow - living there for decades - has to stand up against her new neighbor, the Israeli Defence Minister, when he moves into his new house opposite her lemon grove, on the green line border between Israel and the West Bank. The Israeli security forces are quick to declare that Salma's trees pose a threat to the Ministers safety and issue orders to uproot them. Together with Ziad Daud, a young Palestinian lawyer, Salma goes all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court to try and save her trees. Her struggle raises the interest of Mira Navon, the Defence Minister's wife, trapped in her new home and in an unhappy life. Despite their differences, and the borders between them, the two women develop an invisible bond, while forbidden ties grow stronger between Salma and Ziad. Salmas legal and personal journey lead her deep into the complex, dark and sometimes funny chaos of the ongoing struggle in the Middle East, in which all players find themselves alone in their struggle to survive. As usual, the Palestinian cause is dismissed, the movie ends with the Israeli wife moving out (obviously separating from her husband), a tall concrete wall has been built between the two properties and a final camera shot shows us half the trees have been cut right down.

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