The Bedouin have a collective attitude to just about everything. Work, money, family, feuds; you name it and the Bedouin will take a collective position. They have a highly developed sense of community and tribal loyalties and for them blood is definitely thicker than water. Family comes first, second and third and if the phrase “cut your nose off to spite your face” was invented for anyone then it was almost certainly the Bedouin; for when it comes to defending the family name they will do and say everything and anything in their defense. All, that is, except for one small issue. Who is to blame? If something goes wrong then someone somewhere must be responsible.
Whoever is actually responsible is completely irrelevant. The actual person upon whom blame should be leveled will of course deny everything and they will in fact become very creative in determining who is to blame and why.
The culprit is neither here nor there, and has no relevance to the case. If a policeman came to find out who had robbed a bank and the bank robber was standing there with bags full of cash, the Bedouin would blame everyone apart from him. The reasoning is simple; it is not a matter of who did the foul deed, it is whose turn it is to be blamed. Who has irritated them recently? Who has taken their favourite camel without permission? Who belongs to a family that stole from them two hundred years ago? This is what matters.
Then of course the Bedouin can start their all time favourite pastime which is to discuss things about other people. Wild theories and allegations will be announced as complete truth and backed up by evidence (which sadly is not immediately available). Names of men and families who have conspired, attacked, shown disrespect, failed to marry the right woman, lied, cheated or in someway done a bad thing will be brought into the conversation as clear conspirators without a shred of evidence attached to them. This will all be treated as absolute fact. Claim and counter-claim will be made as to who should shoulder the blame and why. Old feuds and family problems will rise to the surface for the hundredth time and it will be discussed, debated, argued and generally pulled apart until there is nothing left except the wisps of smoke from the countless cigarettes they have been smoking.
Conspiracy theorists on the internet are amateurs compared to the Bedouin.
Having satiated their desire for endless debate, they will then come to a collective decision about who to blame. This is then propagated around the tribe. The poor individual will then find themselves charged and found guilty without so much as a by-your-leave. Then he will regard his family honour as infringed and he will want amends. And the feud will start, to be endlessly repeated for countless generations. The Bedouin regard this as perfectly normal and indeed something to be encouraged in order to allow them to practice their true love; debate, argument and gossip. And feuds.
Bedouin Paths runs ethical hiking tours out of their Bedouin Camp in St. Katherine in Sinai. Visit their website at www.bedouinpaths.com for more details.