Home Societal / Political Cross Cultural My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XIII. Getting Acquainted

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XIII. Getting Acquainted

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The process of becoming acquainted varies among cultures. I will relate here to the topics of “names” and “greeting behavior.” First, let us get back to the gas station.

Stories of friendship: Bashar, who?

Anata, a Palestinian village just outside Jerusalem, December 2010. I passed by at Abu Omar’s gas station and asked one of the workers about Bashar. The workers, several of them children between 12 and 15, mostly belong to the Abu Sahra family. The response was “Bashar? Which Bashar? You mean Abu Omar’s brother, Abu Ward? He is not around, but come and have a seat.”

Names

From names we can learn something about the importance of family life in both cultures. My full name is Daniel John Nicholas Weishut. Among Muslims, Christians and Jews it is common to name children after figures from the holy scripts. Daniel is the name of a prophet. In Hebrew it means “God is my judge” (Daniel, 2011). In most situations, Daniel is the name that identifies me. John is also my father’s second name, and that of my parental grandfather. It was the first name of one of my ancestors. In Jewish tradition, I was named after a deceased family member. Naming children after one’s ancestors is also common in Dutch culture, as in Bedouin culture. Nicholas was someone in my extended family who died at a young age not long before I was born. Weishut, which means “white hat” in German, was probably the name given to my family at the time of Napoleon, referring to my family being involved in a profession in which a white hat was customary.

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