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.

11 replies »

  1. Doesn’t it just ‘take the willy’.

    A perfect example of Guardian ‘misrepresentation and omission’.

    One has to wonder who Guardian subscribers are? Are they complete idiots?

    • Unfortunately it wasn’t just The Guardian that put out this bilge about Ezra Nawi.

      So did “Harry’s Place”, two years ago, when they too painted him as a humble activist hero persecuted by the Israeli policy because he was gay. And the post recycled The Nation’s touting of him as “Israel’s Man of Conscience”.

      And “Harry’s Place” ran yet another Ezra Nawi fan post just in January this year. In fact it explicitly represented him as “a liberal gay version of Joe the Plumber,”

      I think the combination of “gay”/”Mizrachi” & “plumber” was just too much for the left to be able to reconcile with the idea that there was plenty of evidence that he is a manipulative, lying, anti-semitic, racist sexual predator. Same problem as so many people had with Johann Hari.

      I looked up some of Nawi’s track record and wrote hostile comments outlining it on the 2009 HP piece, and got absolutely lambasted as a crazed homophobe for my efforts

    • CiF are especially devious now. Gavin Titley accuses me of having a political motive in breaking the story. Are they honestly trying to suggest O would not have reported something like this if it concerned any other candidate? Titley claims: ”The fateful blogger… appears to have a political motive to attack Norris and, by extension, Ezra Yizhak, an Israeli Jew and committed human rights activist in Hebron”. Not much mention of his more controversial activities there. Call yourself a human rights activist and it seems you can get away with murder.

  2. the Guardian ran one of its “In Praise” editorials – this time In praise of … Ezra Nawi.


    The Guardian: In praise of … a pedophile rapist.
    From the World’s Leading Liberal Newspaper, mind.

    And doesn’t the G have a big thing on pedophile priests?

    But if a rapist is anti-Zionist: Tout comprendre, tout pardonner

    • I agree that the Guardian did lavish too much sympathy and attention, presenting Nawi as an innocent gay person, persecuted for fighting for the rights of downtrodden Palestinians, but quite possibly, like the rest of us, the staff had no knowledge of his prior conviction. Not that that might have made much difference, as we saw in the Polanski and Galliano instances when there was no shortage of people happy to defend and whitewash both these individuals.

      • I did try to make the point in my column that, unlike Gordon and Baram, it is possible the Guardian editors did not know of Nawi’s past. However, that being said, before an editor writes an article “In praise of…”. wouldn’t it be a good idea to use the enormous resources of the Guardian to check up on the background of the person s/he is praising?

        In fact, it is only getting worse – there is a new article (third in a row about the Norris issue) which essentially excuses Nawi’s pedophilia and conviction for rape by focusing on what, of course, a Guardianista regards as his extremely good points – his anti-Israeli activism:

        “Ezra Yizhak, an Israeli Jew and committed human rights activist in Hebron”.

        (I find it curious, by the way, that the article consistently uses the familiar “Ezra Yitzhak” rather than his full name, or the more common usage of first and last name – i.e., Ezra Nawi).

        • Yes, AKUS, it’s entirely possible, given the selective approach of the Groan. But they’ll accept anything they get so long as it’s anti-Israel, and any cognitive dissonance about their heroes being paedophile or otherwise criminals will send them into denial phase, otherwise it would open many cans of worms about what else they have got wrong and will back to back peddle on.

          The Guardian lies in order to push its agenda, whether by omission or commission, and since when has good background research been valued there?

          @Judy, have you sent a copy of this to Harry’s Place? I think you should.

        • Let’s face it, the Guardian just doesn’t CARE whether it prints the truth – it counts on the fact that many of its dwindling readership are looking for an excuse to bash something and their writing in praise of a paedophile “poor Palestinians” supporter adds more grist to their mill.

          Can it be true that IQ’s have plummeted so much, and that critical thinking, and refusing to believe the equivalent of sixteen impossible things before breakfast unless one has hard proof, are so alien to these people?