Whilst Anti-Israel academics flourish, pro-Israel academics sidelined.

Anti-Israel academics flourish, pro-Israel academics sidelined.

In our morally inverted world, it pays to be on the side of the bad guys. This sober reality is nowhere more evident than in academia, where those who support the BDS movement and other Israel hate fests are applauded, whilst the very few who show moral clarity in standing up for civilized values are demonised and ultimately sidelined.

One example is Dr Mervyn Bendle, formerly a senior lecturer in the history of terrorism at James Cook University, who was threatened with charges of serious academic misconduct after Canberra academics complained about an article he wrote in Quadrant, which argued their theories of terrorism were characterised by a desire to downplay the danger represented by jihadist terrorists in favour of a view that Western countries were primarily responsible for terrorism.

Associate Professor Anthony Burke condemned Bendle’s article; he wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University, urging her to investigate whether it constituted a case of serious academic misconduct that could lead to suspension or even dismissal. Another Canberra academic, Dr Paul Pickering, contacted Bendle’s Head of Department, also insisting that he be punished for writing an article criticizing their work.

Dr Mervyn Bendle. Picture: Cameron Laird Source: The Australian.

Dr Bendle has considerable expertise in terrorism and related issues, having published many academic & newspaper articles and conference papers. He also pioneered and taught the History of Terrorism at 2nd & 3rd year university level for several years. He lamented

“The traditional values of academic debate seem to have gone out the window as academics increasingly seek to excuse Muslim and jihadist terrorists, while blaming the West for the thousands of murderous terrorist attacks that have occurred over the past few year…It is becoming extremely difficult and even dangerous to voice opposition to the views of these powerful and influential academics”.

Some of his articles are controversial, but in a free society, he should be entitled to express an informed view about a topic vital for our national security. Below is a selection of his articles which might well offend some, but are nevertheless based on verifiable facts:

“Hijacking Terrorism Studies in Australia”, Quadrant, No.449, September 2008.
“How to be a ‘Useful Idiot’: Saudi Funding Part 2” National Observer, Winter 2008.
“Seduction of Saudi cash is Faustian pact for Unis”, The Australian, 29 April 2008, p. 14.
“Secret Saudi Funding of Radical Islamic Groups in Australia”, National Observer No.72, Autumn 2007.

“9-11: treason in the academic comfort zone?” On-line Opinion 11 September 2006.

In 2006, Bren Carlill, then employed by AIJAC, wrote:

A debate has emerged in recent weeks in the media regarding the state of Australian terrorism research. Dr. Merv Bendle wrote in The Australian that the majority of Australian terrorism researchers follow a “self-blame” mentality – the view that the West is responsible for anti-Western terrorism – and employ a set of theoretical templates that predetermine research outcomes. His critics haven’t rejected his accusations as much as justified the ‘self-blame’ model.

Bendle and those who have supported his argument haven’t suggested that ‘self-blame’ academics be censored… Instead, they have questioned the wisdom of allocating scarce governmental research funding to such studies at the expense of researching the growth of domestic and international Islamist terrorism from a traditional security perspective.

Dr Carl Ungerer.

Bendle and other critics of current funding priorities, such as Queensland University’s Dr. Carl Ungerer and Dr. David Martin Jones, believe it’s important to ask why the option of terrorism has proven so popular among Islamists of differing ethnicities, when other cultural groups with significant grievances have avoided terrorism or ostracised terrorists in their midst.

It’s a reasonable question. But some academics appear determined, without offering well-developed reasons or evidence, to avoid discussing the role of ideology, belief systems or religion in terrorism.

… other projects have as their underlying assumption – that Western policies are the main cause of terrorism. One example is “Democratising the Middle East: Implications of Washington’s Policies”. The project’s aim is to assess the success or otherwise of US Middle East and Central Asian policies.

Granted $438,776 over four years, the project is run by a who’s who of Arabist academics, who can be counted on to repeat the standard dominant Arabist critique of US Middle East policy…Headed by Dr. Shahram Akbarzadeh of Monash University, the fellow recipients are Professor Amin Saikal of the Australian National University, English academic James Piscatori and Dr. Ben MacQueen, also of Monash.

Akbarzadeh’s reaction to the Danish Muhammad cartoon controversy, for example, was alarm – not at Muslim violence – but at the Danish editor’s “reckless neglect” in ignoring the “predictable result”…

Saikal has implied that American neo-conservatives and “religious Zionists” are comparable to al-Qaeda. For instance he said in August 2005… “It is important that the fate of world politics be wrested from the three minority extremist groups – al-Qaeda and its close associates from the Muslim side, elements of neo-conservatives and reborn Christians from the US side, and inflexible religious Zionists from the Israeli side”.

The debate started by Bendle is both valuable and necessary…the 21st century is increasingly likely to be characterised by Islamist violence and coping with the global jihad.

Unfortunately, those who have chosen to employ critical theory and “post-colonialism” analysis, which essentially argues that all Western attempts to do anything but agree entirely with third world peoples and arguments is a form of racism, make it hard to generate empirically based, policy relevant studies of the intellectual, religious and cultural roots of Islamist terrorism and its relationship with the Muslim mainstream.

For some years, Australian academics have eagerly answered the call to boycott Israel. Ironically there is no suggestion that they should be subject to disciplinary action for supporting the racist and anti-Semitic BDS. Apparently, only Israel supporters deserve such punishment! In 2009, The Electronic Intifada wrote:

Responding to the Call of Palestinian civil society to join the BDS movement against Israel, we are an Australian campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as delineated by PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel):

In light of Israel’s persistent violations of international law, and given that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel’s colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal…and given that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine…

We scholars… call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era… We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace…

Undersigned: Dr. Anthony Ashbolt, University of Wollongong; Jumana Bayeh, Macquarie University; Professor Ann Curthoys, The University of Sydney; Dr Ned Curthoys, Australian National University; Professor John Docker, The University of Sydney; Ann El Khoury, Macquarie University; Professor Heather Goodall, University of Technology, Sydney; Laila Hafez, University of Wollongong; Professor Terry Irving, University of Wollongong; Dr Evan Jones, The University of Sydney; Dr Jon Jureidini, University of Adelaide; Dr Ray Jureidini, American University in Cairo, Egypt; Professor Peter Manning, University of Technology, Sydney; Dr Morris Morley, Macquarie University; Dr David Palmer, University of Adelaide; Rosemary Pringle; Professor Lyndall Ryan, University of Newcastle; Dr Ron Witton, University of Wollongong.

The petition contains the usual fabrications and advocates

“a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions…”

Strange how these self-described ‘scholars of conscience’ ignore Saudi funding of Australian universities, when Saudi Arabia has an appalling human rights record in regard to women, homosexuals, non-Muslims, and even non-Arab Muslims. Yet these scholars care little about the fate of those oppressed in other countries. Paradoxically, most Arabs, given a choice, would prefer to live in Israel, and even the founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, studied at Tel Aviv University. Some apartheid! For more about Barghouti’s lies and his real agenda, see this link: Stand With Us.

Sadly, many Jewish academics have rushed to join the ranks of the Israel-bashers. In 2010 they joined an “Australian initiative that rejects Israel’s automatic right of return for Jews across the world.”

Their media release read, in part:

We are Jews from Australia, who, like Jewish people throughout the world, have an automatic right to Israeli citizenship under Israel’s “law of return.” While this law may seem intended to enable a Jewish homeland, we submit that it is in fact a form of racist privilege that abets the colonial oppression of the Palestinians.

Today there are more than seven million Palestinian refugees around the world. Israel denies their right to return to their homes and land—a right recognized and undisputed by UN Resolution 194, the Geneva Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…

We renounce this “right” to “return” offered to us by Israeli law. It is not right that we may “return” to a state that is not ours while Palestinians are excluded and continuously dispossessed.

Signatories include:

Professor Peter Singer – Princeton University
Professor Dennis Altman – Professor of Politics, La Trobe University
Professor Andrew Benjamin – Monash University
GJ Lindell – Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Adelaide
Professor David SG Goodman – Professor of Chinese Politics, University of Sydney
Professor John Docker – Sydney University
Jean McClean – advisor to Vice-Chancellor at Victoria University on East-Timor
Dr Peter Slezak – University of New South Wales
Dr Tony Balint – Blue Horizon Clinic
Dr Ron Witton – University of Wollongong
Dr Ned Curthoys – Australian National University
Dr Rick Kuhn – Australian National University


No mention of the fact that the Jews were indigenous to the area, while the Arabs were colonizers, nor of how Jews were thrown out of Arab lands where they had lived, often for hundreds of years. Nor of course do they mention that the reason for themore than seven million Palestinian refugees” is because a Palestinian refugee is defined differently from all other refugees, to include all descendants in perpetuity.

Jewish academics who oppose Israel are guaranteed a responsive audience. Associate Professor of International Law at Sydney Law School, Ben Saul, opposes BDS not because it is immoral, but because it punishes anti-Israel Israelis, as well as normal Israelis! In 2011, he wrote:

The discrediting of a Sydney local council and the Greens for proposing to boycott Israel has been savage and effective.

The global movement of BDS against Israel is over-broad because by targeting the whole Israeli economy and sporting, cultural and academic institutions, it collectively punishes all Israelis regardless of their responsibility for harming Palestinians. That approach is crude, simplistic, and alienates many in Israel who are sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause. I have international law colleagues in Israeli universities, for example, who are often involved in human rights challenges to Israeli actions. Isolating them, and others like them, is foolish and counterproductive.


It’s obvious the anti-Israel brigade care nothing for academic freedom, seeking to stifle dissenting views. Sadly, in the case of Merv Bendle, they succeeded, as he was forced to resign. John Izzard recently wrote a reflective piece –

“The Thought Police Never Rest”

One does not need to be clairvoyant to know that the left will have worked itself into quite a froth by this time next year, when the Anzac centenary will incite and inflame that tear-it-down instinct at the heart of what passes for the ‘progressive’ intelligentsia

He quoted Bendle:

“…the attack on Anzac and the Digger legend is an elitist project explicitly dedicated to destroying the popular view of these traditions held by Australians, and is being led by a cadre of academics, media apparatchiks, and some disaffected ex-army officers overwhelmingly located in Canberra and ensconced in elite institutions, including the Australian Defense Force Academy, the Australian National University and the Australian War Memorial, where the Australian officer corps and bureaucratic elite receive their education.”

Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, so we have twelve months to prepare for the left’s onslaught of unrelenting hatred and denigration of Anzac Day. Why should we prepare? Because, like most of our pre-PC beliefs, traditions and institutions, Anzac Day is a threat to the “progressive” left.

From the above extract of Mervyn Bendle’s essay… the reach of the left’s obsession with being “progressive” is entering a new phase, what Orwell described in the Newspeak word, doublethink. I guess a good example of doublethink would be, as Bendle points out, some of those employed as academics and bureaucrats at the War Memorial and the Defense Academy who have set about undermining the very history and historical memory they are paid to protect and enhance.

… Since the Seventies and Eighties the ideology of the left has slithered into just about every institution in Australia. Under the original, harmless sounding name of political correctness (Orwell’s Ministry of Truth), our schools, universities, government departments, media, and courts — indeed, most of our political and social debates — are manipulated and controlled by the proponents of political correctness.

An unfortunate viral network exists that controls and feeds history departments in universities, as well as media studies, journalism schools, teacher-training and, of course, media organisations like the ABC, SBS and Fairfax. Most writers today seem to under the spell of left-wing ideology. Political parties like the ALP and the Greens are in lock step. On-line, the righteous-left, always bleating on about human rights, are vicious and vile.


Sadly, history is being distorted to serve a political agenda. Those who go along with the agenda, like Antony Loewenstein , are greatly rewarded. He writes:

The BDS movement is a logical and non-violent response to human rights abuses in Palestine, so why is it being threatened in a country like America that prides itself on free speech.

In the US, politicians and conservative commentators are arguing for the criminalisation of BDS. This would have a chilling effect on free speech in a nation that likes to pride itself on the sanctity of the First Amendment.

… a number of US academics, including Judith Butler and Rashid Khalidi, signed a recent statement that read in part:

It is important to recognise that boycotts are internationally affirmed and constitutionally protected forms of political expression … We are now witnessing accelerating efforts to curtail speech, to exercise censorship, and to carry out retaliatory action against individuals on the basis of their political views or associations, notably support for BDS.

Of course, the opposite is true; those who criticize Israel and the West find a ready audience on campus, whilst those who stand up for the values that America and Israel represent are demonized.

Sadly, Merv Bendle paid the price for speaking out. Let us applaud his honesty and integrity and his courageous attempt to stand up to the bullies.

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  1. Leon Poddebsky

    How do “academics” who belong to the “leftist”, “progressive ” (and other nice-sounding adjectives) mindset explain the terrorism that is practised by Arabs against other Arabs?
    “Western policies?”

    And to think that taxpayers fund them!

  2. It’s the age of the Internet the fast age, if it wasn’t for the Internet age of getting ground information in seconds from across the world from your average citizens carrying phones with cameras, we would still be getting distorted information from controlled news agency’s, this is why today the truth is quick to come to light. The truth is what we are seeing Palestinian kids being used as target practice from the IDF, Palestinian family homes illegally demolished, and the illegal Israeli land settlements, from my eyes I view all these things as the primary precursor for anti-Israeli / Zionist amongst the academia some circles.

    • Leon Poddebsky

      john you are perfectly suited to be the head of the sydney university peace and reconciliation studies centre
      pardon my lousy spelling and punctuation i am not as erudite as you

      • Leon Poddebsky

        But seriously, John, the Palestinians are quite frank and open about their final aim, which is to extinguish the State of Israel, and Hamas openly preaches genocide.
        Now, if you were a Jew, would you fall in love with either of these two prospects?
        Israel has even offered to forego a large portion of its territorial rights under international law in exchange for real peace, but the Palestinians want to destroy Israel more than they want their own state.
        Have you ever learnt what the territorial provisions are of The Mandate for Palestine?
        Kids are killed on both sides: the difference is that when Israeli bullets do it, it’s unintentional; when Palestinians do it, it’s intentional: the Palestinians say so themselves.
        When a Palestinian beheads a Jewish baby he is glorified as a hero.
        Come on, John, be honest, who is the villain in the conflict?

        As for “controlled news”, don’t you think that the media’s coverage is already hostile enough towards Israel?

        The following information illustrates the gulf between Israel’s morality and that of the Palestinians: today Mahmoud Abbas’s wife is recuperating in an Israeli hospital following her operation there; a year or two ago one of Ismael Hanyieh’s ( Hamas fuhrer) close relatives also received medical attention in Israel as Palestinian rockets were raining down on Israeli schools.
        A few years earlier a Palestinian crowd lynched two Israelis, bathed their hands in their blood and triumphantly held them up to a cheering crowd.

        Can you see any difference in standards here, John?

    • Jews Down Under

      John you are still getting distorted news , it’s know as Pallywood. Follow some factual sites and not the ones that spew forth disinformation and then you will get the truth.

      What a good laugh “Palestinian kids being used as target practice from the IDF, Palestinian family homes illegally demolished, and the illegal Israeli land settlements,”

      Every point you make is inaccurate. Follow a credible new source or please don’t come here again.