The Arab-Israeli Conflict in the Lemon Tree Film


The Arab-Israeli conflict extends over decades because there are numerous practical reasons that make an imminent solution unachievable. For instance, Stoessinger (2010) mentions that the political horizons in Israel and Palestine are almost diametrically opposite despite their geographical nearness. Thus, both parties are excessively worried about the counterpart being too explicit about the conflict. A great amount of pressure exists between Israel and Palestine due to the lack of trust and the inherent dangers of international relations (Stoessinger, 2010). In line with Stoessinger (2010), the absence of alternatives to the long-term obstacles accompanied by dysfunctional governments places the burden of despair on local residents. In turn, the latter perpetuate violent responses in an attempt to protect their unique values.

Lemon Tree as a Representation of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The information included in Stoessinger’s (2010) book is exceptionally important when looking at the contents of Lemon Tree. Riklis (2008) was able to create a nearly perfect representation of how the conflict between Palestine and Israel could be resolved. The story of Salma, a Palestinian widow trying to protect her lemon grove from the Israeli security forces, carefully explores the relationship between the two opposing sides. Even though the Israeli Defense Minister initially sees lemon trees as a crucial threat, Salma perseveres and saves the trees with the aid of a young Palestinian lawyer and the Israeli Supreme Court (Riklis, 2008). Thus, the director focuses on the idea of empathy and kindness overruling the reign of terror and aggression in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Realist and Liberal Ideas in Lemon Tree

The primary realist idea in Lemon Tree is the inherent aggression that makes it harder for the participants of the conflict to stay away from their militant mindset. Hence, when trying to find a solution, the main characters of the story were exposed to a scenario where they could not overcome their bias for the sake of a peaceful cohabitation (Riklis, 2008). Another concept that could contribute to the realist perception of the conflict is the direct hint at the process of transnational cooperation. When Salma goes to court, she tries to emphasize the value of the greater good. The latter is the ultimate reason why all main characters of the story find peace toward the end of the film.

The first liberal idea in Lemon Tree is how the main characters measure their power and meaningfulness within the framework of their existence. For Salma, her lemon grove represents something bigger than pure monetary value (Riklis, 2008). This is the reason why she tries to protect her freedoms by preserving the condition of lemon trees. Thus, she is looking to eliminate the global conflict through the interface of smaller steps based on humility and empathy. The second liberal idea to consider is the main characters’ willingness to step away from exaggerated, biased perceptions in an attempt to achieve peace-related advancements. When looking at Salma, one could conclude that by being protective of her lemon trees, she showcased the opportunity of overcoming anarchy and the quest for power without aggression.

Responding to Sorensen et al.’s (2022) Claim

When looking at liberal optimism and realist pessimism, governments should choose an option that reflects their interests the best. Despite Sorensen et al. (2022) willingness to maintain a healthy balance between the two, an equilibrium is most likely impossible. The first reason why constant progress in international relations cannot be accompanied by escapism and anarchy is the prevalence of idealized approaches that should not be expected to function predictively in real-life. Therefore, the problem with idealist views of international politics is that it overlaps realism and makes people believe in the achievability of a utopian society (Sorensen et al., 2022). This interpretation of the existing arguments could be linked to the idea that many contemporary foreign policies are aimed at enrichment and not conflict de-escalation. With this information in mind, one should carefully revise their approach to international relations if even the smallest bits of bias are expected to be removed. In a sense, realism could justify the need for a stronger economic stance and a significantly more pragmatic relationship between Israel and Palestine.

One more reason to review the author’s claim is the improbability of establishing a peaceful solution in the case where optimism and pessimism are perceived as opposing solutions to the same question. Thus, Sorensen et al.’s (2022) willingness to operate antithetical variables does not make practical sense. The world is not a black-and-white place where certain decisions are either correct or incorrect. Instead, a pragmatic approach should be implemented to avoid overlapping ideas. Despite Sorensen et al. (2022) focusing on the opportunities associated with the combination of optimism and pessimism, realism and liberalism cannot be utilized to create a balanced solution for a nearly irresolvable conflict. The Arab-Israeli disagreement stems from the fact that there were no particular limitations to the confrontation, leaving both sides lacking support and a better understanding of how to cooperate. Therefore, the primary option for the parties involved in the conflict would be to resort to humility and then review available options for the decision-making process.


Riklis, E. (2008). Lemon Tree [Film]. Israel; IFC Films.

Sorensen, G., Jackson, R. H., & Moller, J. (2022). Introduction to international relations: Theories and approaches. Oxford University Press.

Stoessinger, J. G. (2010). Why nations go to war (11th ed.). St Martin’s Press.

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