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Scottish Court to Rule on Whether Anti-Israel Protesters are ‘Anti-Semitic’

By Ken Ferguson – This Can’t Be Happening – 06/01/2011

Cupar, Scotland–This county town of Fife, is not exactly a news hot spot. Probably the last big story here was the landing of Italian balloonist Vincenzo Lunardi nearby in 1785 at the end of a 43-mile flight from Edinburgh.

However the small town’s sleepy Sheriff court is about to host a key legal case involving a US student from New York and two anti Israeli protestors who have been charged with racism.

For the information of US readers, in Scotland the Sheriff isn’t some John Wayne figure with the star on his chest, but is rather the bewigged judge presiding over the local court.

This case centers on an incident at nearby St. Andrews University, where two students are facing racially aggravated conduct charges after allegedly making comments and gestures critical of the State of Israel and its flag.

Press reports are already in danger of prejudging the case, with headlines such as the one reading “St. Andrews University students in court to face anti-Semitism charges” that ran in the local daily, The Courier.

According to one of the charged students, Paul Donnachie, “Whilst in the room at the student residences of an individual who I considered a friend, Chanan Reitblat, I placed my hands down the front of my jeans and onto an Israeli flag which belonged to him, accompanied by comments to the effect that Israel is a terrorist state, and is guilty of many civilian deaths.”

He continued, “The action was not malicious. However, it sparked a great deal of political debate amongst our group of friends within our Hall of Residence, whereby the nature of the State of Israel was discussed.”

The following day, after hearing that Mr Reitblat had been upset by his actions, Paul says he “wrote a letter stating that, whilst I would not apologize for my opposition to the actions of the Israeli state, I would apologize for the manner in which I chose to mediate my political opinions on this occasion.”

Despite this conciliatory action, the following day police officers arrested both Paul and his friend Simon Colchester and held them in custody for 36 hours before they were made to appear in court charged with “threatening and abusive behaviour,” which was subsequently amended to the more sinister charge of “racially aggravated conduct,” a violation of the Criminal Law.

Basically the case turns on whether to criticize Israel or its flag is the same as anti-Semitism. The case is the more surprising, given that last year a very similar charge in Edinburgh was tossed out by the courts.

In that instance, five protestors who had disrupted a performance of the Jerusalem String Quartet in Edinburgh in 2008 were charged on a similar basis, with the state alleging that they were guilty of racism for protesting against the fact that performers in the group were also members of the Israeli military.

Dismissing the case last year, Sheriff John Scott made it clear that is entirely legitimate to criticize the Israeli state, its army or other institutions, without being guilty of anti-Semitism.

However when the two St. Andrews students were in court last month the Procurator Fiscal (prosecutor) claimed to be unaware of the earlier Edinburgh case.

Equally alarming is the fact that when protestors demonstrated outside the court, a police sergeant spoke to them warning them that he and his colleagues would not tolerate them giving “racial abuse”.

Outraged campaigners firmly told the officer that they took grave exception to the idea that they were potential racists and a protest has been made to the police chief about this.

The St. Andrews case will now be heard in late August, and since Reitblat, the American student, has now returned to the US, he will either have to be brought to Scotland, presumably at public expense, or questioned by video link.

The case comes at a time of growing support for the Palestinian case in Scotland with, for example, the country’s trade union federation, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, supporting calls for a boycott of Israeli products.

It is also potentially embarrassing for St. Andrews University, which hosts a major department which studies terrorism and which is widely funded by outside donations, including many from the US.

June 1, 2011 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance

2 Comments

  1. Racism is when you discriminate against someone because they were born different looking or have customs and traditions that are not your own. Anti-Semitism is when you don’t like bully boy tactics or gang manipulations of things such as what a free and democratic society’s response should be against using white phospherous on women and children. I don’t think it would be anti-white racism if you pointed out that the South African flag in a dorm during the apartheid era shows support for some very anti-social and disturbing beliefs. I’m not saying you can’t have a poster of Hitler in your dorm room, but you have to expect heat for it by those who may be deeply offended by it and what it stands for.

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    Comment by Eric Vaughan | June 2, 2011

  2. For those who didn’t notice, some dictionaries have added this usage to their definitions, i wonder whose idea that was?

    Like

    Comment by 6 million can't be wrong | June 2, 2011


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