My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: VII. Cultural Differences–Honor and Aggression

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: VII. Cultural Differences–Honor and Aggression

In the Arab world, where the family is the corner stone of society, honor is central. Moreover, among the Arabs honor is often perceived as being related to sexual purity (Dodd, 1973). Issues of honor may turn into long-lasting family disputes, which through escalation may become violent. The urge to protect the family’s honor can take severe forms and in extreme cases lead to blood vengeance (also named “honor killing”), the obligation to kill in retribution for the death of a member of one’s family or tribe, and a form of maintaining honor (Al-Krenawi & Graham, 1997).

Aggression and the Use of Power

As described previously, honor may lead to aggression. The concepts of culture, power and aggression seem to be interwoven. Issues of power are central in group relations, and will become evident in any large group (Cottam et al., 2004; Weinberg & Weishut, 2011). Power may be used in positive ways enhancing society, but may as well be used by the dominant group in coercive ways in order to subjugate other groups or individuals. It seems that no culture can do without power struggles, which may become obvious by the following definition of culture (Bond, 2004) as:

a set of affordances and constraints that channel the expression of coercive means of social control by self and others. All cultural systems represent solutions to the problems associated with distributing desired material and social resources among its group members while maintaining social order and harmony. Norms are developed surrounding the exercise of mutual influence in the process of resource allocation, favoring some and marginalizing others. Violations of these norms by resource competitors are conceptualized as “aggressive” behaviors and stimulate a process of justified counterattack, escalating the violence (p. 62).


Share this:

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".

View all posts by Daniel Weishut

Leave a Reply