A St Andrews student who was found guilty of a racist breach of the peace has been sentenced to 150 hours of community service and expelled from the University.
Paul Donnachie, 19, had been convicted of racism after defiling an Israeli flag hanging in the bedroom of fellow student Chanan Reitblat, an American from Yeshiva University in New York who was studying in St Andrews for a semester.
Donnachie’s co-accused Samuel Colchester, 20, also a student at St Andrews, had previously been found not guilty following a two-day trial at Cupar Sheriff Court, but has been suspended from the University for a year.
During an incident early in the morning of March 12, the two students entered Mr. Reitblat’s room at his halls of residence in a state of intoxication after a night out. Noticing an Israeli flag hanging on the wall, Donnachie declared Israel to be a “terrorist state” and the flag a “terrorist symbol.”
He then unbuttoned his trousers, removed a pubic hair and rubbed it on the flag. Donnachie later asserted via Facebook that Mr. Reitblat was a “Zionist,” and declared “victory to the Infitada.”
During his defence, the former student, from Blackpool, argued that his actions were a “legitimate” form of political protest, and insisted that he meant to cause no offence.
Following sentencing, Donnachie, who was supported outside court by around 50 pro-Palestine supporters, told reporters that though he had “mediated my opinions in a manner which was inappropriate, that does not make it illegal and it certainly does not make it racist.”
Mr. Reitblat, however, strongly disagrees with this perception. “What happened in my room was a disgusting and humiliating display of drunken racism,” he told The Saint.
“To this day, Paul has not apologised to me for his behaviour and made matters worse by publicly referring to me as ‘rich and greedy,’ a clear anti-Semitic stereotype. His actions and comments, both in court and in the media, indicate that Paul is an unrepentant racist and can care less about the pain and suffering he has put me and my family through.”
Mr. Donnachie announced after sentencing that he intends to appeal with immediate effect. “My university career at St Andrews does appear to be over,” he acknowledged. “However, there are other universities I believe I have a lot to offer.”