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

  • West Sands has become health risk because of campervans, says councillor

    West Sands has become health risk because of campervans, says councillor

    Photo credit: Henry Legg Famed for its sprawling sand dunes, the two mile long expanse of West Sands that stretches out alongside the St Andrews Links is the last place you would expect to pose a health risk because of overcrowding. But a Fife councillor has complained that the free parking, summer weather...

    Read more →
  • EIFF presents: Tony Benn: Will and Testament

    EIFF presents: Tony Benn: Will and Testament

    Tony Benn: Will and Testament is an intimate look at the life of British socialist, anti-war campaigner, husband, and father, Tony Benn, once called the ‘most dangerous man in Britain.’ The film received its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival with its premiere selling out...

    Read more →
  • Students take to the stands as Rory romps to victory

    Students take to the stands as Rory romps to victory

    Last Sunday the world watched as Rory Mcilroy raised the fabled Claret Jug on the links at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. People swarmed around televisions whilst the fairways and greens were surrounded with expected spectators. On the grandstands at the 18th green however, the members of the University...

    Read more →
  • Leuchars could become space port by 2018

    Leuchars could become space port by 2018

    RAF Leuchars has been named as a potential site for Britain’s first commercial space port. Until recently a fully functioning RAF base, the site is currently transitioning to the army. Now, however, in plans set out by government ministers, Fife could become a leading centre for space travel. Eight...

    Read more →
  • Internet use alters perceptions of beauty

    Internet use alters perceptions of beauty

    In a study by University of St Andrews scientists, it has been determined that access to the internet changes what people find attractive in men and women. The first study of its kind, it compared people with internet access to those in the same country without. The results proved that those with internet...

    Read more →