My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XIX. Mine and Yours

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XIX. Mine and Yours


There is a large dissimilarity in how both cultures relate to possessions. For the Dutch, there is a clear distinction between what is yours and what is mine, and whether you have or do not have. Furthermore, in my upbringing I was taught to cherish possessions; one does not throw away anything unless that is necessary. A loss is a loss, whether it is money, time, or something material. Moreover, if you caused the loss, you are the one to blame. In addition, you will take care that you have enough reserves, pay in time, and do your utmost not to borrow from others.

For the Palestinian Bedouin, it is a fact that material things, including money, come and go. At one point, you may have something, at another point it will be gone. One day my friend could have a pile of banknotes in his pocket, and the next day he could be without money to buy food. The idea is that it is no use to be upset for losses and there is no need to blame someone for causing the loss; of course, this has its limits. In any case, one pays when one has the money. The Palestinian Bedouin takes an attitude of what one has, one shares with others.

More than that, Bashar would expect that at his friend’s home he could behave as in his own home (as long as no women are present) and vice versa. He therefore would see it self-evident that he could fetch from my refrigerator whatever he fancied, use my towel, take compact discs from my car or – on our visit to the Netherlands – wear my father’s sweater. Not that I (or my father) would have objected to any of these, but in the culture I come from, this kind of things are not done without asking permission, even among friends. One respects that the property belongs to the other. Bashar realizes the dissimilarity between us in this respect; instead of me taking things from him – as he does – he from time to time simply offers me to take things from him, like clothes or food.


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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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