A former St Andrews University student who was convicted of racism after he defiled an Israeli flag hung in the bedroom of a Jewish colleague has been given community service.
Paul Donnachie, 19, was found guilty at Cupar Sheriff Court of racially abusing American student Chanan Reitblat during an incident in Mr Reitblat's room in the university halls of residence.
Donnachie walked into Mr Reitblat's room and launched a tirade about Israel after seeing the country's flag on his noticeboard, and stuffed his hands down his trousers then rubbed them over the Star of David banner.
Mr Reitblat told an earlier trial that the flag had been given to him by his brother, who had served in the Israeli Defence Force.
He said: "Paul noticed the flag and said 'Israel is a terrorist state' and that the flag was a 'terrorist symbol'.
"He then said I was a terrorist.
"Paul then unbuckled his trousers, put his hand down there, ripped out some pubic hair then wiped his hand on my flag."
Donachie later went on Facebook and posted a series of messages branding Mr Reitblat a "Zionist" and proclaiming "victory to the Intifada".
The American - who will take up a research position at Harvard when he graduates from Yeshiva University in New York - said he was left "disturbed, shocked, and violated" by the incident.
He added: "I can't believe this would happen at such a pre-eminent university in Scotland."
Donnachie, giving evidence in his own defence, told the trial that he had "fought racism" all his life - and that his act was a "political statement".
He added: "I am not suggesting it was a dignified thing to do - but by displaying a flag of Israel you are making a controversial statement which invites criticism.
"What I did was a symbolic gesture toward a flag."
Donnachie, from Blackpool, denied acting in a threatening or abusive manner aggravated by racial prejudice on March 12 this year at a building owned by the University of St Andrews at 30 Links Crescent in the Fife town.
However, a sheriff decided Donnachie had "displayed malice toward Mr Reitblat because of his presumed membership of Israel".
He was found guilty after a two day trial heard by Sheriff Charles Macnair QC sitting without a jury. Samuel Colchester, 20, from Andrew Melville Hall in St Andrews, was also accused over the incident, but was found not proven
Donnachie's solicitor Patrick Campbell said: "It was never his intention to cause offence."
He maintains that it was a political statement."
Sheriff Charles Macnair QC ordered Donnachie to complete 150 hours community service and pay £300 compensation to Mr Reitblat.
He said: "This was a racist incident. Nobody disputes your right to a political view as to the behaviour of Israel - that's perfectly legitimate."
"What you did that night could only do harm for the legitimate cause you espouse to have.
"In particular the part of your behaviour which I find most serious was that you described Mr Reitblat as a terrorist because of his association with Israel.
"Its the direct equivalent of those who suggest that all Muslims are terrorist."
Outside court, Donnachie said he would appeal his conviction, adding: "I believe the sentence is disproportionate.
"Mr Reitblat was an American studying over here so he's from a rich family - I hope he gives the compensation to a good cause and doesn't just fund his own greed.
"I plan on applying to other universities now and going to the West Bank to do something good to fight Israeli occupation."
Around 50 pro-Palestine protestors turned up at Cupar Sheriff Court to support Donnachie displaying a paint-smeared Israeli flag it to photographers and cameramen and others attempting to bring flags in to the courtroom.
They shouted "shame", "scandal", and "democracy has died" when a sheriff told him he was imposing community service as a direct alternative to a prison sentence.
The University of St Andrews said Donnachie had been expelled from the institution, while Colchester was suspended for a year.