My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin:  XIII. Getting Acquainted

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XIII. Getting Acquainted

Greeting behavior

Greeting behavior is highly dependent on culture. For example, in the Netherlands in close encounters one regularly greets complete strangers (Hofstede, 2001), while in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority this seems to be highly uncommon. When meeting with Bedouins one needs to get into the habit of certain aspects of the encounter that may seem strange to the Westerner. First, as a man, one only has access to Bedouin men and not to women. I will expand later on issues related specifically to women and men, and to the relations between them. Then, in Western Europe Caucasian male academics tend to shake hands when they meet, and say their name. Not presenting yourself with your name would be perceived as unmannered. When meeting a group of Bedouins, one usually greets those present with a “salaam aleikum”, Arabic for “peace upon you”, and shakes hands with all. Names are mostly left unmentioned.

In the West, men may hug friends, with possibly some patting on the back. Kisses are reserved for encounters with women or now and then male family members. The number of expected kisses varies between countries. Israelis tend to kiss twice; the Dutch tend to three kisses. For Bedouin men it is customary to kiss four times when meeting after a substantial separation; kisses are mostly cheek-to-cheek. In contrast, with women (except for one’s mother, wife, daughters or nieces), no physical contact is allowed. Bashar anyway is not so much into bodily contact; he seems to kiss and touch his friends less than many other Bedouins or Palestinians I met. When we meet, we usually shake hands, as he does with many others. With other Bedouins or Palestinians, I shake hands or sometimes kiss (the Bedouin style).


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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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