As seen in the Courier newspaper (links below) the external walls of the courthouse were plastered with repulsive posters claiming "Israel is a criminal state" and "To criticise Israel is NOT a crime - it is a duty," and in addition a Facebook page calling for Justice for Donnachie has been marred by a number of outright antisemitic comments, including the Ashkenazim-are-Khazars canard and slurs on the Talmud. The blog Harry's Place (http://hurryupharry.org/2011/08/23/drunken-thuggery-is-the-new-political-activism/) has screenshots of some of the worst early offenders.
In March Donnachie entered the room in a hall of residence of exchange student Chanan.Reitblat, from Yeshiva University in New York, with another student, against whom a similar charge was not proven.
The flag had been given to Mr Reitblat by his brother, an IDF soldier, and the incident left the Jewish student feeling "violated and devastated".
Mr Reitblat explained in Court:
"Israel is a Jewish state... You cannot separate Israel from Jewishness... Israel is a state I feel affiliated to by religion....Israel is a land for Jews... The Jewish people have a right to self-determination. That is part of my religious belief."The Sheriff maintained that Donnachie's act was "done because he [Reitblat] was a Jew and because of his association with Israel." He went on:
"Saying that a state is terrorist says that everyone within the state is terrorist. He doesn't distinguish between the state and the people.
Mr Donnachie doesn't distinguish between the government of Israel and the state."He told Donnachie:
"This flag was his personal property. I consider that your behaviour did evince malice towards Mr Reitblat because of his presumed membership of Israel.
I hold that you said, that's a terrorist flag, Israel is a terrorist state, and you are a terrorist.
Section 50A requires malice or ill will towards a person based on their membership of an ethnic group; which includes nationality and association with that group.
It was malice and ill will because of his presumed membership of Israel."Donnachie, who has now been expelled from the university, and on whom the Sheriff deferred sentence until 13 September, intends to appeal his conviction, which he desribed as "ridiculous ... I'm a member of anti-racism campaigns..."
He'd told the Court:
"I'm not contending that my action toward the flag was commendable or dignified, but it was a political expression."At the verdict, the anti-racists (supposedly) of the Scottish PSC booed and shouted in the courtroom and also booed Mr Reitblat as he departed.
Said Mr Reitblat:
"My privacy was invaded in a shocking way. I am Jewish ... and Israel is an important part of my religious belief.
They attacked my beliefs and the behaviour toward me and my property was humiliating.
I welcome today's conviction. I want to thank the St Andrews University authorities for their support during this troubled time.
I also want to thank Fife police and officials at Cupar Sheriff Court."Grumbles the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign:
"The sheriff ... refused to allow Paul's lawyer to call the three expert witnesses to appear. Liz Elkind and Sarah Glynn, both of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace, and SPSC chair Mick Napier were going discuss the dangers of conflating Judaism with Zionism and Israel, the history of Zionist attempts to do so, and the concepts of Israel and Israeli nationality. The sheriff considered this irrelevant because there was nothing they could teach him that common sense wouldn't provide."
Sarah Glynn, visibly upset, reportedly told the Reitblat family (Holocaust survivors who left Lithuania for America when Chanan was two):
"As Jews you should be ashamed. This is devastating."http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/53598/racially-abused-jewish-student-felt-unsafe-st-andrews