My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: II. Why Study Intercultural Friendships?

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: II. Why Study Intercultural Friendships?

Two friends

Before turning to the methodology of this study, let us first introduce its two main subjects; one of them is my friend Bashar, the other is me. Below I will share the story of our first encounter. Next are some factual details about each of us, followed by a general description of our friendship.

Stories of friendship: The first encounter

Jerusalem, Summer 2003. I was going home after a long day of work out of town. I descended from the intercity bus at the central bus station and halted a taxi with the purpose of getting home quicker. When I looked into the taxi, I saw that another passenger was there already. When asking about this person, the driver said “do not bother; I will take you both”. I thought “what the heck?” and entered. During the short drive, the three of us started talking. I enjoyed their company and at the end of our ride, I invited them in for coffee.

The passenger was Bashar and since then we are friends. The taxi-driver was Jaffer, and he will play some part in my life as well. I was brought up with notions of privacy and taking distance from strangers. For me it was unusual to join them in the taxi. In contrast, they were brought up with the idea of doing things collectively. Bashar was not a paying passenger in the taxi, as I had interpreted at first; he simply had joined his friend Jaffer in his work. From a cultural point of view, inviting strangers in my flat was not at all in line with my Dutch background. In the Netherlands invitations tend to be made much in advance, and there is not much space for spontaneity, in particular not with strangers. Nonetheless, enjoying their company and out of curiosity I trespassed cultural norms. For Bashar and Jaffer my invitation was nothing out of the ordinary. Palestinians do not seem to have this urge to plan. Israeli culture is actually a mixture of many cultures, but the dominant (Euro-American) culture would allow for some spontaneity. Still, in most Israeli Jewish circles in would be out of the question to invite two – unknown – Arabs to one’s home.


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About the Author

Daniel Weishut

Daniel WeishutDaniel J.N. Weishut, born in the Netherlands but living in Jerusalem, is a professional with a diverse background. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and an MBA in Integrative Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PsyD in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology (Sacramento). He has about thirty years of experience in consultation and therapy with a wide variety of clients and issues, more than twenty years of practice in group facilitation, and over fifteen years of know-how in governance and management in various organizations. Daniel Weishut offers his services as a "Partner on the Way", while taking a world-view that people are diverse but equal. He works with a variety of clients, but his special interest is in work with those who have found themselves persecuted or otherwise in conflict with their social environment, because of their culture, identity or belief system. For example: migrants, expats, refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers, pacifists, and individuals from religious, cultural or sexual minorities. Daniel Weishut is a social activist and in this capacity he volunteers as Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Group Psychotherapy, as Member of the Membership Appeals Committee of Amnesty International and as forensic expert for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. He also is involved in raising awareness about the situation of Bedouins around Jerusalem; awareness which led among others to the writing of his dissertation "My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship".

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