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

  • Willie Rennie urges Alex Salmond to quit ‘Remain’ campaign in EU debate

    Willie Rennie urges Alex Salmond to quit ‘Remain’ campaign in EU debate

    Willie Rennie, the member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for North East Fife, has encouraged Alex Salmond to quit the campaign for the UK to remain in the European Union (EU) “before he does any more damage.” Mr Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said that the former First...

    Read more →
  • Thompson and Jewitt triumph in Duke’s Spring Gold Medal

    Thompson and Jewitt triumph in Duke’s Spring Gold Medal

    Sunday 15th May saw the annual Duke’s Golf Club Spring Gold Medal competitions for men and women take place at the Duke’s Golf Course in St Andrews, with Greg Thompson and Jude Jewitt running out the winners. The Duke’s is the only non-links course in St Andrews and provides a challenging...

    Read more →
  • St Andrews ranked top university in Scotland

    St Andrews ranked top university in Scotland

    St Andrews has maintained its third place ranking in the Guardian University League Table 2017 announced today. The University has also retained its status as the top-ranked university in Scotland, according to the league table. St Andrews also claimed the top ranking in the UK for several subjects,...

    Read more →
  • Sports Ball was a drunken disorderly mess

    Sports Ball was a drunken disorderly mess

    Photo: Lightbox Creative Thursday night saw the annual sports ball hosted at the Fairmont. The event is one of the last black tie events in St Andrews, with set tickets and tables assigned to each sports club within the Athletic Union. The evening includes dinner and a ceilidh, making it one of the...

    Read more →
  • The Vic wishes us a sweet Summer Sixteen

    The Vic wishes us a sweet Summer Sixteen

    As we crested the culmination of the second semester exam diet, many of us took last Thursday as the chance to say our drunken farewells to the streets that we have stumbled upon, to the acquaintances we vaguely know from the library, and to the late night takeaway places that will soon grow quiet in...

    Read more →