My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XVII. Conclusion– Individualism versus Collectivism

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XVII. Conclusion– Individualism versus Collectivism

Differences in the friendship between Bashar and me on the dimension of individualism/collectivism displayed a similar pattern to Hofstede’s findings on Dutch, Israeli and Arab cultures. In line with the cultures in which we grew up, in most situations I tended to an individualistic stance, while Bashar tended to a collective stance (see also Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, in Samovar et al., 2009). For a Dutch person, the centrality in society of the individual is so obvious, that it is hard to imagine anything else. For the Palestinian Bedouin the situation is the reverse; the community is central and the individual is of lesser importance. To some extent, it is an issue of priorities, revealing what element in society is perceived as more important, the individual or the community.

In the encounter with a different culture, one has to engage in cultural learning. The challenges were first of all in the cognitive realm. Understanding the social dynamics helped me in attuning my expectations. It took me years to fully understand and appreciate a collectivistic attitude to life, but eventually I was able to adapt and see its many positive sides. In the meantime, I learned different customs. The immersion in Bedouin community life felt as a fantastic opportunity. Learning the customs was for me more an intriguing task than a hardship, and many of the collective events in which I participated were like adventures.


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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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