Clinton Bailey


Last weekend I had the opportunity to meet one of the pre-eminent scholars of Bedouin culture of our times. Originally from Buffalo, Clinton Bailey has lived in Israel since 1958 and been actively involved in the Bedouin community since the 1970s. He has published two monumental works on Bedouin oral culture, A Culture of Desert Survival: Bedouin Proverbs from Sinai and the Negev and Bedouin Poetry from Sinai and the Negev: Mirror of a Culture. Both have been extremely useful in my calligraphy.

The second book is particularly important as it records and transcribes a cultural phenomenon that is disappearing. The younger generation of Bedouin do not memorize the poetry of their forefathers as the older generation did. Renowned throughout the Arab world and beyond as the most eloquent, most poetic strata of Arab society, the loss of the Bedouin poetic tradition in Israel is a cultural tragedy, and this work is crucial for recording that tradition before it is extinct. He is currently working on a third book, in its final stages before publication, on Bedouin law.


Photos by Rachael Strecher


~ by Josh on February 22, 2009.

12 Responses to “Clinton Bailey”

  1. […] in Rehavia I’m housesitting for Clinton Bailey, who has an amazing home in Rehavia, my favorite Jerusalem neighborhood. It’s the first […]

  2. i’m trying to get hold of clinton bailey as he knew an artist i’m researching. i would like to speak to him about this artist. Any ideas/advice about how to contact him?

  3. Hi, I’m trying to get in touch with Clinton Bailey to request permission to quote him in a book soon to be published. Any suggestions?

  4. “One diversion from China was provided by Clinton Bailey, an Israeli Jerusalemite, whose delightful Bedouin Poetry and subsequent book on Bedouin proverbs from Sinai and the Negev (A Culture of Desert Survival) has now been followed by the equally elegant Bedouin Law (Yale), an interesting case of justice without government (that being the apt subtitle).” – Edward N. Luttwak, contribution to “Books of the Year” roundup, The Times Literary Supplement (London), November 27, 2009:

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  5. Hi I am trying to locate Clinton Bailey? I used to be one of his students. Any thoughts?

    • Ms. Wassel – I am dying to hear from you and just saw your inquiry on this blog. Please write to me at the old
      I’m not teaching there any more, but they channel my research funds. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you.
      Professor Bailey

  6. I have been trying to reestablish contact with Clinton for years. We go a long way back…to The Negev in 1967. I would be most grateful if you could put us in touch with each other. Sincerely, Mike McGurk.

  7. I would like to invite Clinton Bailey to speak late this spring to the Wednesday Seniiors meeting at the AACI at our new home in Talpiot… Could someone place give me a telephone or email contact. Many thanks. Marcia lewison -Chairman AACI Seniors

  8. Have just returned from Crete and we thought about you having spent a fabulous holiday there with you, your family and Chris Eliou. Summer of 1973 – you had to dash back because of the outbreak of war with Egypt.

    We always talk about you and hope you and your lovely family are well.

    Phil & Anne Gibbs

    • Dear Phil and Anne,
      What an amazing surprise!!! So good to hear from you. We and Chris, whom we see each year in Greece, thank and ask about you often. We’ll be making our next trip at the end of this month.
      We hope you are well; and if you kindly reply to this note, we can begin to coordinate a meeting. I’m at
      Sorry to be half a year late, but I haven’t checked this site for over two years.

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