My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: I. Challenges and Opportunities in Intercultural Friendships

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: I. Challenges and Opportunities in Intercultural Friendships

Daniel Weishut Psy.D.

[The text for this essay is taken from: Weishut, D.J.N. (2012) My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Professional School of Psychology, Sacramento, California, USA.]

Friendships are essential in human development. In an era of globalization, in which the intermingling of cultures is on the rise, individuals are more likely to create friendships, which are intercultural. Intercultural friendship can be full of challenges, but can also provide opportunities for mutual growth and be a small step toward social justice. This autoethnographic study focuses on the interface between interculturality and friendship. It does so in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an environment that is not conducive to the creation of friendships between Arabs and Jews. The author, a Jewish Israeli man of Dutch origin, investigates his friendship with a Palestinian Bedouin man, through the perspective of Hofstede’s (initial) four cultural dimensions, namely individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance and masculinity/femininity. The respective cultures in which they were raised are far apart on all four dimensions.

20140815_122151After a literature study is presented in the next few essays, the socio-cultural context of this friendship is described, with emphasis on Bedouin life. The analysis of the differences was performed through the discussion of selected topics for each of the dimensions. The cultural differences as they appear in the friendship were found to be tremendous on each of the dimensions. Bridging these differences involved emotional, cognitive and behavioral challenges. Challenges and opportunities in the friendship were explained in detail and illustrated expansively by stories. The differences are in line with Hofstede’s theory for three of the cultural dimensions, but in the field of “uncertainty avoidance” they conflict with the theory. It was suggested to divide this field into two separate dimensions, “tradition” and “discipline”. The study, which became an integral and increasingly significant part of the friendship, ends with a discussion on possible implications for personal and professional growth, and for social justice.


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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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