SJJP statement on the conviction of Paul Donnachie

Scottish Jews for a Just Peace notes with concern the outcome of the case against the St Andrews’ student Paul Donnachie in relation to the alleged complaint of Acting in a Racially Aggravated Manner against a fellow student Chanan Roziel Reitblat (contrary to the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 Section 50A). It would appear that Paul Donnachie’s protest was directed not against Chanan Reitblat as a Jew or indeed as a person, but against the political view that he espoused. We condemn the way that the Sheriff’s decision confuses the legitimate right to criticise the State of Israel with racism, and conflates Jewishness with support for Israel.

We are concerned that the Sheriff did not allow Jewish witnesses for the defence to be called to give evidence regarding the crucial distinction between Zionism – a political position of support for a Jewish state in Israel/Palestine – and Jewishness – a person’s religion or ethnicity.

Jews (religious or not religious) may or may not be Zionists, and even those who support the idea of a Jewish state may be critical of its government. Like any other group of people, Jews have a wide range of political opinion and to imply that Jewishness coincides with support for Israel is to make a racist assumption. The Israeli state is a political entity and does not act on behalf of Jews as a whole. For very many Jews the idea that they should be automatically associated with the Israeli state is deeply worrying, not just because it is inaccurate, but also because it is potentially dangerous. The Israeli government does not act in our name and we are not responsible for its actions.

Criticism of the political concept of basing a state around a single religious or ethnic group or of the actions of the Israeli state is wholly legitimate; and the ability to criticise a political position or a national government is a basic freedom that must be guarded tenaciously.

6 thoughts on “SJJP statement on the conviction of Paul Donnachie”

  1. Imagine a student who rubbed his genitals on the Egyptian flag and said Egypt had no right to exist and ethnic Egyptians should be deported where they came from. When he got to trial he just said that he was anti Egypt and not anti Egyptian, and there was nothing racist about deporting all the ethnic Egyptians. What would the cruel judge do?

    It almost feels futile to explain this, but anti zionism is the most naked form of modern racism. The movement is, quite simply, the only acceptable way to demand the ethnic cleansing of a certain ethnicity from an existing country.

  2. It is a Jewish cliche that we hold diverse opinions and enjoy debate. But Jews do tend to agree that Zionism and Judaism are distinct, even when they hold very different views about Israeli politics.

    To equate being Jewish with exclusive membership of a particular Middle-Eastern nation-state is actually very close to classic European Anti-Semitism. It would mean that British Jews, for example, aren’t fully British at all, but will always be inherently alien.

    Mick’s simplistic analogy constrains what it means to be Jew, and so threatens the variety and breadth of Jewish identity. It’s a line of reasoning, which, though he didn’t mean to be Anti-Semitic, could nevertheless fuel Anti-Semitism.

  3. what a sad bunch of pathetic apologists you lot are. Thank goodness for you, you dont live in an Arab ‘democracy’ or Zimbabwe or Burma or Cuba etc etc -youde be flogged or tortured to death by now. Grow up!

  4. Dear, dear, shum mistake here – the offending student has apologised for fingeriing the flag, Mark, but denies using the word ‘terrorist’. I suggest that labelling him as anti-semitic racist is a much overused ploy for anyone who has the guts to express an anti-Zionist view. So, as well as getting basic facts wrong in this particular case, anti-Zionist jews (like me) get labelled as what they’re not. And since Arabs are semites too, hurling abuse at the growing number of concerrned people who work for freedom for Palestinians i.e. for peace and justice, is even more nonsensical. What’s more, world opinion is becoming increasingly shocked by the arrogance of Israel’s government and its counterproductive violence.

  5. Hey! A right wee clever glogs here trying to bamboozle us with an inside out logic. Don’t fall for it friends, I don’t actually for a moment expect most of youse would. He begins with the word “Imagine” and uses this fantastic aproach throughout his dubious contribution. This stuff gives me the sort of teeth grinding headache that used to begin when the teacher announced the next lesson as “interpretation”! But let’s give it a go. Need we argue over the word “country” as a physical entity? Fine. Who would argue that a political movement arose amongst a section of people of Jewish ethnicity in the early part of the 20th Century. That movement is identified by the term Zionism and campaigned for a homeland for Jewish people. Is there a wealth of unassailable historical evidence that “the ethnic cleansing of a certain ethnicity from an existing country” took place in Palestine to meet the Zionist demand? Why are we all stupid but the Zionists? I don’t think so!
    Michael MacGregor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.