Khalil Bendib was born in France in 1956 to Algerian immigrants. His family returned to Algeria when Bendib was six, and as a teenager he began drawing political cartoons for a French-language daily in Algiers; Bendib claims some of his work was rejected for political reasons. He later studied art at the Beaux Arts school of Algiers. After a spending a short time France (he claims to have left due to racism) Bendib moved to Berkeley, California, in 1977. In 1982 he earned a master’s degree in East Asian Languages and Culture at the University of Southern California, where he published cartoons for the students’ newspaper. Between 1987 and 1995 he drew cartoons for the San Bernardino Sun. According to Bendib, the Sun came under pressure by advertisers because of his Middle East themed cartoons, which caused him to resign. He became a U.S. citizen in 1992.
Bendib has voiced many of the themes found in his cartoons on his radio show. For example, in June 2006, Bendib moderated a debate on the Israel lobby featuring guests who debated whether the lobby controls American foreign policy in the Middle East. During the debate, Bendib discussed the “incredible impact of Zionist money and influence” in the U.S., suggesting that many politicians “privately speak of their terror of the Zionist lobby in this country, and I am not talking about the Christian right either.” According to Bendib, the “financial wherewithal of Zionist groups” forces politicians “to toe the most extreme Zionist line time and again, when it comes to any Israel related vote in Congress.”
In addition to his radio program, Bendib has expressed his views on Israel at various events on college campuses and at American Muslim and Arab community events. For example, he moderated a debate on the “Israel Lobby” in February 2007 at the University of San Francisco titled, “Is the Pro-Israel Lobby the Dominant Factor in Determining U.S. Middle East Policy?” In October 2007, Bendib spoke at an event entitled, “Drawing While Brown: The Adventures of a Muslim Cartoonist in Post-911 America,” hosted by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at California State University - Long Beach.
Bendib works in a variety of artistic mediums, including paintings, ceramics, drawings, bronze sculptures, mosaics and public monuments. While his artwork is primarily focused on Islamic culture and religion, in September 2003, he sculpted a monument next to Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, in honor of Deir Yassin, an Arab town whose inhabitants were massacred in 1948. Bendib described the monument as using “the same principle as Holocaust memorials that if you remember what happened - and this was the seminal catastrophic event for the Palestinians – there’s less likelihood that it will be repeated.”