CST Blog

Chanan Reitblat on fighting racism

22 September 2011

Chanan Reitblat, the Jewish student at St. Andrews University who was racially abused by Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign member Paul Donnachie, has written an account of what happened to him, and explained why he wanted Donnachie to be prosecuted. He writes:

When I was a child, my family immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union, seeking freedom from communist oppression.  For the seventy years of the Soviet Union’s existence, any outward expression of Jewish identity was suppressed by the state security apparatus. Displaying an Israeli flag or other Jewish symbols could easily land one in prison.

I felt compelled to bring the case to court because I am not in the former Soviet Union any more.  I am a Jew. I am proud of my people. I am proud of my history.  And I am proud of the Jewish State – Israel.

I felt compelled to pursue this case because no person – Jew, Gentile, Arab, Christian, Muslim, American, Scot, Israeli or Palestinian – should face abuse and intimidation based on their membership or affiliation with an ethnic, national or religious group. To display my affiliation with the Jewish State is not a “controversial statement.”  It is my right, just like anyone else’s.  I hope that my case sets a precedent and sends a clear message to university communities in Europe, the U.S. and around the world:  freedom to criticize Israel, or any other country, does not include the freedom to delegitimize or incite hatred against members of the academic community simply because of their affiliation with or support for Israel.

On behalf of myself and all those students who have ever felt afraid or intimidated to express themselves and their beliefs I wish to send a message to Mr. Ahmadinejad and his campus proxies: your morally bankrupt behavior does not scare us. You only embolden us further to fight for our ideals of democracy, peace, and morality.

Read the rest here.

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