My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin:  XIV. Meals and Other Celebrations

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XIV. Meals and Other Celebrations

In contrast, in Bedouin life, marriages are often arranged; they are a matter of the community as much as they are a choice between a man and a woman. Bedouin wedding ceremonies and festivities are usually planned not more than a few weeks ahead and they will last for several days. Before the actual wedding, both the bride and the groom will have a bachelor party, according to traditional customs. A party for the whole community is held in the open; more exactly, for the men in the community. Mansaf and Bedouin coffee will be served to all. At night there will be ritualized dancing, in large circles. The women will have a separate party. An official ceremony at which a nuptial agreement is signed will take place within the circle of the close family.

Bedouin men tend to marry their first wife by age 20. Polygamy is common practice in the Bedouin community. Bedouin men may marry up to four women, but nowadays having more than one wife seems to occur less than in previous generations. According to Bashar, the restriction of marrying not more than four women is one imposed by religion, whereas the dwindling of polygamy has to do with more democratization and limited financial resources among the Bedouins. Bedouin men do occasionally marry outside the Bedouin community, but it is rare for Bedouin women to marry a non-Bedouin. Divorces are scarce, and thus women remain protected by their families. 19-year old Ibrahim is one of the sons of the second wife of Bashar’s brother, Abu Ya’akub. Unlike many of his cousins who grew up in the Palestinian Authority, Ibrahim was raised in Israel (in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem). Also through his eyes, polygamy is recommended. On the first occasion in which I had any significant interaction with him – I gave him a ride – he shared that he is about to have his driving test and asked if I have a job for him. However, he was mostly concerned with marrying. He stated that he really wants to marry soon, but does not know yet whom to marry. (I suggested that he would wait some more and offered some reasons for postponing marriage.) He also informed about my marital status and mentioned that he believes that it is time for his uncle Bashar to marry a second wife. As we discussed the idea of marrying, it became clear that Ibrahim was clearly aware of other options of relationships between men and women, but he preferred the traditional attitude.


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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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