Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Academics accused of 'anti-Israel' bias

Academics accused of 'anti-Israel' bias

Publication: The Sydney Morning Herald
Date: August 14, 2006
URL: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=122198

Prominent Jewish MP Michael Danby has accused two well-known academics of being one-sided over the Middle East conflict.

"I grieve for the state of Middle East studies in Australia," Labor MP Michael Danby told parliament.

He accused Dr Andrew Vincent of Macquarie University's School of North African and Middle East Studies of pushing a "bizarre conspiracy theory".

And Dr Amin Saikal of the Australian National University's Arab and Islamic Studies program, had unusual ideas about terrorism.

Mr Danby said Dr Vincent was the only person he knew to join the prime minister's Muslim reference group in demanding that Hizbollah be delisted as a terrorist organisation.

He also said that Israel possibly murdered former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

This was "a most bizarre conspiracy theory".

Mr Danby said Dr Saikal had last year accused Israel of using disproportionate force to contain terrorism, which included suicide bombing.

"I don't know how many people outside the august halls of academy at the ANU regard suicide bombing anywhere as other than terrorism," Mr Danby said.

Dr Saikal also said Iran had developed a sort of democracy that may not accord with western ideas but provided a degree of mass participation, political pluralism and assurances of certain human rights.

"Let's get this straight," Mr Danby said.

"In Iran there is mass persecution of minority religions."

Moreover, supreme spiritual leader Ayotallah Khomeini had canvassed the idea of nuclear war with Israel in which all Israelis would be eliminated but Iran, while taking tens of millions of casualties, would survive.

That was "a bizarre and monstrous idea".

Mr Danby said the one-sided teaching could have bad long-term effects on Australian policy as graduates came into government.

He said public pressure had helped make the ABC's coverage more balanced and the same pressure should be applied to universities.

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