Ezra Nawi and an Irish Scandal: A praised Guardian “activist” is now not so praiseworthy

A guest post by AKUS

A long time ago – actually, on July 3, 2009 – before the Guardian decided to ban me from commenting on CiF, the Guardian ran one of its “In Praise” editorials – this time In praise of … Ezra Nawi.  

Ezra Nawi, a fanatically anti-Israeli Israeli, was to be tried for assaulting a police officer while interfering with the removal of an illegal Bedouin settlement. This was a follow-up to a previous tear-jerker on the same topic by the reprehensible Israeli BDS supporter, Neve Gordon – Israeli activist to be jailed for caring.

Nawi has a long history of anti-Israeli activities. Both articles played fast and loose with the truth about the case and his personal history, which is no surprise given that they appeared in the Guardian. You can read commentary by Abtalyon and, yes, AKUS, in the threads below the line, pointing out the numerous errors and falsifications in both articles.

Neve Gordon went to some trouble to describe Ezra Nawi as a simple, high-minded and special person, even pointing out his relatively unique status as a gay Israeli of Iraqi Jewish origins and his humble proletarian class-status as “a plumber by trade”:

Nawi is not a typical rights activist. A member of Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership he is a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent who speaks fluent Arabic. He is a gay man in his fifties and a plumber by trade. Perhaps because he himself comes from the margins, he empathises with others who have been marginalised – often violently. 

Now a political scandal in Ireland reveals that Ezra Nawi was not always the simple and heroic soul Gordon and the Guardian were so anxious to defend and praise. The Guardian may have been ignorant of Nawi’s past (after all, ignorance about Israel is a hallmark of Guardian reporting on Israel), but one can only wonder whether Gordon decided to avoid mentioning a rather unsavory event from Nawi’s background.

In Ireland, a scandal has erupted because it turns out that a gay Irish politician named Senator David Norris, who is (or perhaps now we should say, was)  running for the presidency of Ireland, had Ezra Nawi as his partner for 30 years  and intervened in an earlier court case brought against Nawi in 1992. In that case, Nawi was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year old boy.  According to the Daily Mail report:

In the eight-page letter on official notepaper to the Israeli court dealing with Nawi, Mr. Norris described him as a trustworthy, good and moral person for whom the ‘present difficulty’ is uncharacteristic.

Neither the Guardian nor Neve Gordon mentioned the trustworthy and moral Mr. Nawi’s prior conviction in their articles. Did Neve Gordon know about Nawi’s less than praiseworthy past? Well, in the Guardian’s archives, there is yet another article from November 29, 2004, in praise of Ezra Nawi, this time by Dafna BaramMy plumber, the hero .  Baram is a virulently anti-Israeli contributor of articles to the Guardian from a famous Israeli family.  Her article has the following reveling information:

Ezra came round straight away; he was cheap, efficient and accompanied by a gorgeous young Palestinian.

Further into Baram’s article, we meet one of Ezra’s lovers, Fuad, a West Bank Arab. Then the second intifada breaks out and the Israeli police wish to return Fuad to the West Bank. This poses a serious threat to Fuad’s life according to Baram:

For Fuad, returning there [to Ramallah] as an openly gay man was not far short of suicide…

Although at the time this probably did not mean much to the Guardian’s readers, in the light of the Irish political scandal it becomes interesting to note that Ezra the humble plumber living his activist life in caves near Hebron taps his extensive network of foreign contacts for support to prevent Fuad from being returned to the West Bank. The timing that Baram provides is also interesting in light of the 1992 case:

Five years ago, [i.e., in 1999] he showed up with Fuad, who was here to stay. They had had their fling four years earlier, [i.e. 1995] but this time it was love. … Soon enough, nearly every human rights organisation in Israel, and quite a few abroad, were involved in the Ezra and Fuad case…

Well, once again, it looks like the Guardian, ardent supporter of Hamas and determined foe of Israel may have some back tracking to do – except it never does.

In case you might wonder how the Guardian would protect Ezra Nawi, so suddenly and embarrassingly revealed as a convicted rapist, consider this article from August 2nd, 2011 – Scandal scuppers prospect of Ireland electing first gay president. The Guardian, ever eager to point out the misdeeds of this or that Israeli, or this or that politician, carefully hides the identity of its praiseworthy hero in the header and sub-header in a way designed, apparently, to evoke sympathy for Norris and an unnamed former partner:

“David Norris drops out of race over revelation he pleaded for clemency for former partner over rape of 15-year-old boy”

But a little deeper in, Nawi’s name emerges:

David Norris announced he was withdrawing from the contest after it emerged he had written to the Israeli authorities in 1997 appealing for clemency for his former partner, Ezra Yitzhak Nawi. The Israeli peace activist was later found guilty of the statutory rape of the Palestinian boy and served time in prison.

Courtesy of the Guardian, we have had the faked Al Durrah affair, the “Jenin Massacre” that never happened, the various lies about Cast Lead, the disaster of the repudiated Goldstone report, the embarrassing blow-up of the Palestinian Leaks, the Mavi Marmara affair determined by the UN to be exactly the opposite to what the Guardian has reported, and the rubbish about Israel – posted by commentators like Ben White, Rachel Shabi, Mya Guarnieri, Harriet Sherwood, and on and on – which we have debunked time after time on these pages.

Now we have the Ezra Nawi affair that once again shows the laxness of the Guardian’s reporting about Israel. One can only wonder if there was a deliberate cover up that involved Baram, Gordon, and the Guardian.  They all presented Nawi as a simple plumber (“Ezra Nawi lives on the modest wages he earns as a plumber” according to the Guardian). However, the humble proletarian activist, Ezra Nawi, it turns out, has a network of international contacts the Clintons might envy and a less than savory past that it is hard to believe that at least Gordon and Baram did not know about.

Pardon my Schadenfreude as they all examine this anti-Israeli activist’s feet of clay.

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