My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XVI. Friendship and Politics

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XVI. Friendship and Politics

Deviations from the Norm and Social Support

I will focus now on what happened in my social environment; a development that took me by surprise. I shared the story of the incident with my closer circles of friends and found that it united opinions and affected my relationships. Reactions were dependent on the attribution of the cause of the event as either internal (dispositional) or external (situational) (Heider, 1958). In other words, locus of control over the event played an important role in the evaluation of the situation (Rotter, 1975). My Palestinian friends perceived the situation as something beyond my control (external locus of control) and did not consider the event something exceptional. Arrests are part of life for Palestinian Bedouin men, and I got the impression that few were never arrested. In contrast, most of my Israeli friends perceived the situation as one that I had invited (internal locus of control). Suddenly, it was possible to discern the collectivistic views of my Israeli friends. I had broken “their rules”.

The tense situation between Israelis and Palestinians creates a great deal of mistrust. More than a few of my acquaintances would admit to the notion that Arabs are not to be trusted. Many of my Jewish friends were concerned about my actions and me; some of them expressing mistrust toward Palestinians in more subtle ways. Some of these friends condemned my behavior and some even considered the incident a rightful punishment of my behavior. They hoped it taught me a lesson of being more careful, and choosing my friends among Jews. They pointed at the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict and could not appreciate my friendship with a Palestinian, which in their view was too dangerous. Furthermore, as one Jewish friend said, she felt that in some way I am being (ab)used by Bashar. As a result, neither my Palestinian friends, nor most of my Jewish friends were particularly supportive, but for different reasons. In fact, my continuing involvement in the friendship with Bashar even after this incident put strain on and changed the relationships with some of my best Jewish friends. It needs to be noted that Bashar experienced pressure on him for befriending a Jewish Israeli as well, but to a lower degree. He explained that Bedouins, being a nomadic people, do not so much identify nationally. They would judge a person by other measures than his nationality, like by his personality.

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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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