Expelled student speaks out on “ridiculous” punishment

October 13, 2011 8:30 am 0 comments

A St Andrews student who was convicted of racism has described himself as the victim of “misinformation, melodrama and outright lies.”

As detailed in the previous issue of The Saint, Paul Donnachie, 19, was expelled from the University and sentenced to 150 hours of community service after being found guilty of a racist breach of the peace.

Charges had been brought against Donnachie after he defiled an Israeli flag belonging to Chanan Reitblat, an American student studying in St Andrews for a semester, in March of this year.

In an exclusive letter to The Saint, Mr. Donnachie attacks what he describes as Mr. Reitblat’s “malice and irrationality,” and labels his punishment “ridiculous and disproportionate,” as well as questioning the truthfulness of Mr. Reitblat’s testimony.

During an incident on the morning of March 12, Donnachie had entered Mr. Reitblat’s room in their shared halls of residence, John Burnet Halls, after a drunken night out.

Noticing an Israeli flag hanging on the wall, Donnachie declared the flag to be a “terrorist symbol.” He then unbuttoned his trousers, removed a pubic hair and rubbed it on the flag.

In his letter, Mr. Donnachie accuses Mr. Reitblat of “rabid invention,” asserting that several parts of his testimony were untrue. He particularly takes issue with his accuser’s allegation that Mr. Donnachie called him a “terrorist,” as well as with Mr. Reitblat’s denial that they had engaged in a political discussion on the conflict in Palestine prior to the incident with the flag.

“Reitblat’s evidence in court was truly Oscar worthy,” Mr. Donnachie states.

Mr. Donnachie also believes that his criminal conviction was a disproportionate response to his role in the incident, arguing that it should have been dealt with through internal University procedures rather than in a court of law.

“I maintain that this affair should have been dealt with through mediation and the buying of a pint,” he argues.

The ill-feeling between Messrs Reitblat and Donnachie shows no sign of abating in the near future. In a perhaps ill-advised allusion, in light of the charges of racism brought against him, to Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, Mr. Donnachie likens Mr. Reitblat to the character of Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, describing the American student as “akin to one with an insatiable appetite, who, having devoured his pound of flesh, wishes to further feast.”

Mr. Donnachie has announced his intention to travel to the Palestinian territories in the near future in order to “witness first-hand the degradation inflicted upon the Palestinian people by the Israeli state.”

Share this article

What do you think?

More from The Saint

  • Blackhorn gains licence to sell alcohol

    Blackhorn gains licence to sell alcohol

    Blackhorn, a burger bar on St Andrews’ Church Street, now has a licence to sell alcohol in spite of opposition from local residents. The decision, made by the Fife licensing board, will also allow the restaurant to stay open later. The board made the decision despite the nine public complaints on issues...

    Read more →
  • Refreshers 2015 Preview

    Refreshers 2015 Preview

    Crawling out from under our duvets where we’ve hidden catching up on Netflix and sleep, we savor one last non-microwavable meal before bundling up in scarves and fluffy coats to return once more to the Bubble. Though the beginning of Week 1 means the return of late nights and library visits, it also...

    Read more →
  • Into the Woods – Reviewed

    Into the Woods – Reviewed

    Into the Woods is a strange Witch’s concoction – a rarity from its inception, its old-school big-studio musical style places it in a genre from a bygone era. The plot is uneven, its emotional tones overlap too quickly, and its narrative intersections are too often painfully contrived. It might...

    Read more →
  • Bard from Aikman’s: Richard Osmond Reviewed

    Bard from Aikman’s: Richard Osmond Reviewed

    Variant Air, Richard Osmond, HappenStance, 2014, £4.00 Shill, Richard Osmond, HappenStance, 2014, £4.00 This’ll make you feel bad: Richard Osmond launched his own poetry press in 2012, while studying at St Andrews. Many of us struggle to both read and drink in a single day. Don’t you hate over-achievers? Luckily,...

    Read more →
  • Cricket World Cup 2015 team preview: India

    Cricket World Cup 2015 team preview: India

    The Cricket World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, or so the Indians believe. Rio de Janeiro may not be in agreement.  Yet due to the sheer prevalence of cricket in India, it is only fair that this World Cup Preview starts in India: the engine room driving cricket through the 21st century. India...

    Read more →