My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XV. Work Attitudes

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XV. Work Attitudes

Mixing Friendship with Business

In Bedouin community, much business is done with friends. Thus, Bashar and I started Jahalin Tours, a small project to make people aware of Bedouin life (Weishut, n.d. a). Although our perspectives and work attitudes were dissimilar, we managed to organize a series of tours. I did the organizing; he provided the content. Later, I became involved in Bashar’s garage, financially, organizationally, and emotionally. When starting the garage, I had known him for many years, and was well aware of many of the dissimilarities in how we deal with life. I also had a background in Business Administration. I invested many weeks in planning, preparing excel sheets and trying to teach one of the workers how to fill them.

I was acquainted with a Euro-American way of doing business, emphasizing efficiency and planning. I also was accustomed to the notion that time is money. Furthermore, in Dutch culture decisions are typically made by consensus, which is based on values like individual autonomy and cooperation (De Bony, 2005). I had expected a similar way of decision-making from Bashar, but he preferred to manage things otherwise. He once clarified that “relationships are more important than money” and that “the program of the garage is to take care of relationships”. For him, the workers are like family and the clients like friends. The garage thus functioned as a family business, with Bashar as the authoritative head of the family taking care of the workers’ needs. He could spend hours in conversations with workers, suppliers or clients; something he perceived as part of his job. People would come in and come to consult on all kinds of issues, not merely related to their car. He was very committed to his work and would invest enormous efforts to fix cars, even if it would cost more than he would earn. The question of who owes what was often more related to the type of relationship than to the exact costs or to what was agreed. His way of dealing with things took much more time than I considered appropriate. On hindsight, I realize that it should have been obvious that running a business with an emphasis on people takes more time than running it with an emphasis on money.

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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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