My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: IX Friendship
There is much less research on friendship than on culture and the existing studies are dispersed among various academic fields. I will now turn to the description of an instance from the friendship, which will be followed by the discussion of selected studies on patterns of friendship and intercultural friendship.
Stories of friendship: “Garage of Peace”
By the end of 2011, I had stopped collecting stories, but I decided to make an exception for the following story, which provides more insight in Palestinian-Israeli relations, in the way in which honor, power and occupation intertwine, and in the societal gap that needed to be bridged in order to create this intercultural friendship. Bashar, owner of the “garage of peace”, shared a rare instance in which a Jewish Israeli client touched his honor and triggered a wave of anger, which was expressed in the form of a political monologue. The reason for sharing the story conveyed not only Bashar’s wish to be understood, but also his aspiration to be a good friend and contribute meaningfully to my success in my studies. In fact, the communication around this story turned out to be instrumental to the friendship. I will present the story as articulated, despite its wordiness, since I find it important to be loyal to the way it was told.
Almog, January 2012. We met at a petrol station with internet connection, since we had planned to buy online flight tickets for our next trip to Europe. Despite the urgency of our plans, Bashar found it more important to clarify to both my teacher and to me what honor meant for him and other Palestinian Bedouins. He dictated the following tale (in Hebrew, which I instantly translated to English).
“Once upon a time I was standing next to the garage. Then came someone Jewish. I worked on his car and he still had 200 NIS to pay. He did not have enough money with him, so I told him to come back the next day. The next day he came with his father. I had a good mood. His father was religious. So I finished the work and he did not give me the money. His father told me and asked: “what is ‘garage of peace’?” I said: “that is a garage in which Jews and Palestinians can meet together”. He said “the peace you speak about is that you will not be in this country.” I replied: “You think I open a garage in your home?” He: “No, this is a place for Jews. God gave this land to the Jews. You will only leave by force.” I was so angry and said: “Listen, I know that I want to talk nonsense with you; so that’s what I will do. Think that this is the opposite of what I believe. According to religion, you and we are from the same father. Now you have power, and we do not have power. Consider that we are the children of Hagar, the daughter of the Pharaoh, which he gave as a present to Abraham and from whom came Ismael. The story of the Arabs started that way. Let us see what you did and what we did.
We are by now 23 countries; the smallest is as least as big as Israel. We had the greatest emperor in the greatest time. We made a religion for more than a milliard of people. There are 56 Islam countries. During this time we talk about, where were you? Now you have one country, Israel. Let us think of this country. Israel has 51% desert, 22.5% occupied territories. In Israel, there are 5.5 million Jews and 5.5 million Arabs. More than half of the country’s money goes to the army. Think what would have happened without American money; what would the army do? You think that God made all people in his shape, so that they can help the Jews, while you think they are not people – ‘goyim’? Let us forget religion and talk about history. Everywhere you made problems. Everywhere they wanted to kill you; from Iran, to Nebuchadnezzar in Iraq, the Russians, the Germans and more and more. Did you not sit down once and think why this happens? There are now in the whole world 15 million Jews and the children of Hagar are 250 million.