Monday, January 14, 2013

Daoud? Is this yours?

I met an Arab contractor from Hevron many years ago. We were considering having him build our home. He invited us to his home in Hevron but since it's illegal for me to go there, not to mention potentially dangerous, I never managed that visit.

We got in a discussion one time about cultures and soon realized we were speaking different languages. He was trying to explain about his family and why it was really so much better than my culture. You see, he has two wives. One is this beautiful young Russian woman who was in her very early 20s at the time. The second one was an Arab woman, "the pathetic one" he called her. She was 46 at the time (and so was I). She had borne him his children and was still his wife but he had taken another - the young one.

He had built them a beautiful home, he told me and kept them both there - the beautiful one and the pathetic one. And, to show you how amazing Islamic law was, he told me, he was very fair. Each night, in succession, he visited each woman. One night here, one night there. I was to commend him, you see because if he wasn't such an amazing person, he would likely have been unfair and spent more time with the beautiful one.

I didn't handle it very well. I wasn't duly impressed. I told him that if I were his wife, I would show him the door and tell him to get out. He thought that was ridiculous. He pointed to my husband and asked if I thought it was better that my husband would sneak off and find another woman instead of being honest and bringing her home as he had. My husband was a wise man. He sat there with a smile on his face, knowing I could and would have what to say.

I smiled back and turned to Daoud and said, if my husband wanted to go to a woman in Tel Aviv, he knows he can go...he just can't come back. Daoud didn't believe me - luckily and happily, my husband does.

In many ways, Daoud crosses cultural lines. He is completely fluent in Hebrew and knows many, many Israelis. He lives a good life, even a rich one. I don't know if this is his house, but I thought of him when someone posted this picture to Facebook. It is an Arab house in Hevron. Daoud told me he had experience building pools and that his house was very large - so that the young wife and the pathetic one had plenty of space.

And I remembered a discussion I once had with someone from the States. He accused us of persecuting the Palestinians, keeping them without electricity and indoor plumbing. He somehow believed that Arabs still ride camels and live in tents.

There are hundreds of homes like this one in Arab areas, perhaps even thousands. Some are in the Bedouin city of Rahat in the desert; others in Ramallah and even in Gaza. If this is how the poor Palestinians are living, I can only wish some day God grants me such poverty.

3 comments:

Cindy said...

Wow! That's extravagant even for America! There are some here who live like that, but the majority of us do not. What a sad story about that man and his wives. My heart aches for his Arab wife.

TWINGLE said...

I once worked with an Arab guy happily married to one wife not eagerto seek out a second one showed me agift he bought his wife (one my husband could never afford) told me of the big home he had for her and his two children said he buys his wife gifts of U$5000 every 8 months or so if he has spare cash and he earnt less than that a month but doesn't have a mortgage and its been that way for 10 yrs.. lucky wife and they are Palestinians whom work hard.

Anonymous said...

Paula - next time you encounter an 'educated' Mohammedan rabbiting on about how wonderful polygyny is (me, I wouldn't give squat for the life of his Russian wife, I bet the older wife hates her like *poison* and would be only too glad to be rid of her), just refer to the latest study on the subject of monogamy vs polygamy (strictly speaking, polygyny). It's been described as 'the most comprehensive study [to date] of polygamy and the institution of marriage".

It was done by one Prof Joseph Henrich and his team, at the University of British Columbia, Canada; they looked at all the historic and contemporary evidence they could find, and they came to the conclusion that monogamy is the gold standard - way out ahead of polygyny, if you look at the 'social indicators' of monogamous vs polygynous cultures/ societies, the longterm results (economic, social, political, psychological, everything).
Their results, in an article entitled "The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage', were published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal society in January 2012.
If you poke around on the net you should be able to google it up - I would supply a link but I'm not sure if that is permissible here.

Summary: "In cultures that permit men to take multiple wives, the intra-sexual competition that occurs causes greater levels of crime, violence, poverty and gender inequality than [occur] in societies that institutionalise and practise monogamous marriage...

Whereas, by contrast, "Monogamous marriage...results in significant improvements in child welfare, including lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death, homicide and intra-household conflict...".

Commonsense, really.

Prof Henrich says, "A more egalitarian distribution of women results in less male competition [DUH] and social problems [again, DUH] and by shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, institutionalised monogamy increases long-term planning, economic productivity, savings and child investments. [DUH]"

The whole thing as originally published is well worth reading.

Oh, and agree totally with you about the one man one wife thing; I cannot imagine my husband being unfaithful but if he were, that would be the end of the marriage. And it would be the same, from his end, if I broke my promise of fidelity. A parish priest I once knew who had had many years of pastoral experience said that he had never known a marriage, within the church community, to survive the infidelity of either the wife or of the husband.

Aussie friend

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