My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: II. Why Study Intercultural Friendships?
Intercultural friendships can provide an abundance of positive experiences, but also a variety of challenges. This study intends to provide more insight into the challenges and opportunities inherent in an adult friendship across cultures, within the context of political conflict. It will do so by using real life examples from my friendship with a Palestinian Bedouin and discussing these in light of the literature. This friendship knows many enjoyable moments, but the study will focus on the cultural gap and the attempts to bridge it through mutual understanding. It will shed light on certain aspects of Bedouin and Palestinian cultures, and to lesser extent on Dutch and Israeli cultures. In addition, it may be relevant in finding alternate ways to personal growth and in supporting projects for social justice.
The friendship will be analyzed through the perspective of cultural dimensions or value orientations. The four cultural dimensions as suggested by Hofstede (2001) seemed to be most helpful in demonstrating the challenges and opportunities in the friendship, since he formulized his dimensions in concrete and practical terms, and specifically studied the cultures relevant for the present study. Hofstede’s dimensions were individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and masculinity-femininity; on all of the dimensions, he found large differences between Israel, the Netherlands and Arabic-speaking countries. Furthermore, he specifically stated that these dimensions could be used as a base for comparing cultures in the realm of qualitative research . However, it would have been possible to do this analysis through the lens of any other classification system and/or regroup the challenges and opportunities according to these classifications.