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

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

My Experience of “Friendship and Politics”

The incident and its consequences were a shocking confrontation with how divergent perceptions can be. I felt quite deserted by several of my friends, and realized how much I was risking in this friendship – not only my social status, but also my freedom. In fact, my perception was quite divergent from that of my friends. The separation wall and the many checkpoints often gave me “recollections” of the Holocaust, in which Jews – like my parents and grandparents – were stigmatized, and had to hide, while others took part in the resistance. Despite the highly different circumstances, I experienced situations within the realm of the friendship as if I am the one taking part in the resistance, providing assistance to those Bedouins and other Palestinians in need. Whatever perspective I chose, through the incident I learned to face that as much as I try to accommodate and support the Palestinian or Bedouin way of dealing with life, ultimately I am responsible for my own behavior.

Throughout the friendship, I occasionally faced reluctance by Palestinians to become closer out of fear I would be some kind of Israeli infiltrator. I experienced the arrest as a kind of initiation ceremony, providing me greater access to Palestinians and Palestinian life. “Being arrested” felt as being more like a Palestinian. It gave me a feeling of entitlement to be accepted, with thoughts like “see what I am willing to do in order to be friends with a Palestinian”. Nonetheless, I believe that this notion of an initiation ceremony was more in my mind than in reality, and not experienced by Bashar as such.

At the time, the incident caused major tension between Bashar and me, chiefly because I experienced him too as providing little support, for reasons explained before. With such a pressure on the friendship to dissolve, I had to fight with myself and with my social environment to keep us together. As a result, the incident became a turning point in our relationship and – paradoxically – brought us closer. Not long after, we decided to travel abroad together. Organizing this trip was a difficult endeavor for social reasons as well as for administrative reasons, but still more feasible than meeting in Israel. I will expand on the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the friendship in the chapter about power distance.

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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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