My Take on the Norris Campaign
July 24, 2011 12 Comments
Davis Norris is not affiliated with a political party. He is a Joycean scholar and preserver of historic buildings. To me, these things make him a much more appealing candidate for the office of President of the little Irish Republic than the other contenders. I’ve always thought it disappointing that the political parties have been the gateway to the Irish Presidency, considering the office is largely ceremonial. The President is meant to be a mostly apolitical figure and representative of Ireland to the outside world. Who could be better than the charismatic urbane intellectual man steeped in some of the best of Irish culture? Isn’t that the image Ireland wants?
Of course, embarrassing past interviews re-surfaced. We all know the story by now. It appeared in his infamous Helen Lucy Burke interview (Here, Here and Here) that Norris was advocating the abolition of the ‘age of consent’ though he claims he has been misunderstood and his words distorted.
That may be so.
It never seemed to affect his lead in the polls. My main problem with Norris in recent times has been his outspoken criticism of Israel. There is lots of that in Ireland (indeed, all of Europe). Yet Norris went much too far for my taste by inviting the Israeli Communist historian Ilan Pappé, a controversial and highly biased academic, to address the Oireachtas. The average Irish parliamentarian would simply have no idea where to begin in confronting the man. Pappé doesn’t fit my definition of a proper historian, and therefore I do not want to waste my breath by attacking him. I will say that at least this fellow is quite open about his sympathies and political agenda (he ran for Knesset elections as a Communist in the 1990s, and claims Israel’s existence is a nuisance that gets in the way of solving larger problems, such as those relating to the environment).
And yet there are past associations of David Norris that are less explored that would seem very relevant. In light of the age of consent controversy it would be highly appropriate to bring up facts about his former long-time romantic partner, the Israeli Communist Ezra Nawi. Nawi is a plumber by profession but also a political agitator. Few are aware that Nawi was convicted of sodomizing an underage Palestinian Arab boy in 1992, as well as the illegal use of a firearm, growing narcotics and transporting Palestinian Arab workers who did not possess the proper permits into Israel. Nawi was given light sentences so as to not give him the status of a martyr among Israeli Anarchists and Communists. David Norris was certainly aware of Nawi’s history of intercourse with underage boys while they were a couple. Why has this been ignored in the public debates?
Nawi’s bizarre activities didn’t stop in 1992. For instance, the man seems to be fond of exposing himself in public. In 2006 he was charged for displaying his genitals to a religious Jewish farmer’s wife near Hebron, who photographed him. In a separate incident, Nawi exposed his anus to an Israeli police officer. Norris was no longer involved romantically with Nawi at that stage. However, he continued to offer him the assistance an Irish Senator with strong Human Rights Industry connections could. The Senator admits to lobbying on behalf of Nawi’s Arab partner, who was jailed for working without possessing proper documentation. When Nawi was in prison for supposedly assaulting an Israeli police officer, David Norris expressed solidarity with him in the Oireacthas. Nawi was quickly released due to foreign pressure and because the evidence against him was not so strong. In 2007, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and other Bishops of the Left also expressed solidarity with Nawi after an earlier assault and rioting incident. A fawning documentary was made by leftist filmmakers about him (it doesn’t mention young boys or firearms). Nawi was given a light 1-month prison sentence after that episode. There may indeed have been questions about Nawi’s most recent assault conviction, but he is certainly not some angelic character concerned solely with human rights. And he is certainly not the kind of man a politician embroiled in conflict over his views on pedophilia would want to be seen assisting.
UPDATE (July 29th, 2011) : It is interesting that Ezra Nawi’s Hebrew Wikipedia page mentions the sodomy against a minor conviction, but the English one does not. Nor do any Nawi biographies on the websites of ‘human rights’ organisations. Here is the Hebrew Ha’aretz article used as a reference for the conviction on the Hebrew wiki. An English Ha’aretz report on Nawi’s 1-month prison sentence I have embedded in the post also refers to the 1992 conviction.