My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XVI. Friendship and Politics
The separation wall I described in the first incident in this chapter plays a central role in our friendship; it is both a physical and symbolic way of separating between us. There are checkpoints in order to pass to the Palestinian Authority, and throughout its territory. Therefore, going regularly to the Palestinian Authority, this was not the first time I was stopped at a checkpoint. However, it was the first time I was detained. In fact, it was the first time in my life that I felt threatened by the law. From my naïve point of view, the notion that giving my friend a ride brought me to the “wrong” side of society was difficult to digest. The shock came in waves. First, there was the arrest, which by itself was humiliating. Then, there was the painful understanding that I am paying a high price for my friendship, now having a police record and facing trial. In subsequent months, dynamics of cognitive dissonance created substantial psychological discomfort (cf. Festinger, 1957) and required that I revise my self-image, the image of my friends and the image of the country I had been living in for almost thirty years. The cognitions I had of myself as an appreciated member of society, and of my environment as relatively fair and supportive, just did not fit together with what I experienced around the incident.