My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin:  XII. Individualism versus Collectivism. Friendships

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XII. Individualism versus Collectivism. Friendships

Perceptions of friendship

The story below demonstrates in a nutshell many of the intercultural differences to be discussed later on. Specifically, we can see here the different cultural dimensions: individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and masculinity/femininity. However, at this point I will only relate to the question of friendship in general, to the issue of togetherness, and to variations in perceptions of matters being either public or private.

Stories of friendship: The netstick

Jerusalem, Friday night, December, 2010. At night, Bashar and I are supposed to meet so that he can give me a netstick. The next day my doctorate student cohort will have a workshop and the netstick will allow a student from Amsterdam to participate through Skype.

9.45 PM   I just finished my Shabbat dinner with my relatives, take off my yarmulke and call Bashar from my car. I want to make sure that we will meet and fix a meeting place. He tells me that he wants to come over to Jerusalem. I am very excited. It is the first time in about half a year that he will come and see me in Jerusalem. We have lots to talk about and are hardly ever in private. I am also highly fearful. I recall that he once came to me by surprise. When I opened the door, he was standing there with his shirt torn and covered with blood. He got stuck in the barbed wire while crossing the separation wall between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I also recall that about a month ago someone was shot dead while traversing the wall nearby the place where he intends to cross. He wants to be sure that he will be able to cross the wall tonight and will call me back in about a quarter of an hour.

10.30 PM   Bashar calls and tells me that he and Akram, his partner in the garage, have crossed the wall and are waiting for me to come and fetch them. They have some things to do. I am highly upset. I thought that he wanted to come and see me. Furthermore, I was already arrested once for driving him in my car in Israel. I take a huge risk, which I was willing to take to be with him, but not necessarily for two people who want to do some errands. I wonder why he did not give me this information before, and withheld from me the opportunity to make up my mind freely. Now there is a sense of urgency. It is only minutes driving from where I live. I feel that I cannot just leave them standing there, and get in my car.

10.45 PM  In the car, Bashar tells me that Suleiman got himself into trouble with Bedouins in the town of Lod. (Suleiman is the brother of Abdalla, a mutual friend of us. Both Suleiman and Abdalla are refugees and fled to Israel from Sudan.) The incident created tension between the local Bedouin and Sudanese communities. Bashar is concerned and since he is both a good friend of Abdalla and a person of standing among the Bedouins, he wants to go there to try to settle the issue between the two communities. Jaffer, the taxi-driver, is supposed to come and fetch them from my place.


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About the Author

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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