“Bnei dodim” means “cousins,” but not of the kissing kind when used by Jewish Israelis to refer to Arabs.
Using “bnei dodim” as a slang term goes back to the early waves of Jewish immigration, if not earlier. Possibly coined as something of a euphemism, it has long been used in the pejorative sense and almost strictly in the third person, or as a way around calling Arabs, well, Arabs.
It is based on the premise that both nations share lines of ancestry going back to Abraham - Arabs through his son Ishmael and Jews through Isaac.
Sometimes used in reference to Arabs throughout the Middle East, the term in this context tends to more usually to refer to the local Arab population, in part or in its entirety.
When addressing mixed audiences, leaders and politicians like to point out the shared blood ties between the two peoples. But referring to one another as “cousins” invariably lacks political correctness.
Shoshana Kordova is on leave. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.
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