The affair combines leftist undermining of democracy, the attempt at thought control by governmental officials and the police, harassment of a university lecturer by an over-zealous anti-democratic prosecutor, and an attempt to create in Israel a political Inquisition against incorrect thinking.
The entire saga revolves around Dr. David Bukay, a lecturer in Middle East Studies at the University of Haifa, with expertise in Arab history.
Bukay speaks Arabic better than I speak English. He has conservative points of view and is very outspoken about them. His articles are carried by numerous journals.
About five years ago, Bukay was the victim of a smear campaign of demonization at the University of Haifa.
At the time, an Arab student who was active in the university branch of the communist party sat in on one of Bukay’s lectures without being registered in the class. The student then ran to the Arabic press in Israel and claimed that in his lecture Bukay had repeatedly made racist derogatory comments about Arabs. The student claimed that Bukay had said in class that all Arabs should be shot.
After the story ran in the Arabic press, it was also reported in the Hebrew press and web. It turned out that the story was planted there and spread by an Israeli “Trotskyite” named David Merhav, who later issued a retraction and apology to Bukay, admitting the entire story had been a tissue of lies. But the retraction did not help.
Today anti-Semitic internet web sites carry the story of Bukay’s alleged racist statements against Arabs.
Once the story began to spread, it turned out that none of the other students in the classroom had heard Bukay make any of the “racist” statements the communist student had alleged that he made.
Many of these students went public and claimed that the Arab student had fabricated the entire story. Hundreds of Bukay’s students backed Bukay in the case. Many wrote the Haifa University chiefs to give their side of the story. In any case, because of the uproar, the Rector at the University of Haifa, himself no right-winger (he was a founder of Peace Now), appointed a committee of investigation to look into the charges against Bukay. They found that they were lies.
But in response to the media uproar, the Israel state Deputy Prosecutor, Shai Nitzan, decided to open a criminal investigation against Bukay for the “crime” of “incitement.”