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.”

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