Norris ex-partner's rape conviction unreported


EZRA YITZHAK NAWI:EZRA YITZHAK Nawi’s conviction for statutory rape of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the 1990s went unreported in Israel.

The court ruled that the sexual relations were consensual and Mr Nawi served a jail term of less than three months.

This was not Mr Nawi’s only court appearance. The political activist had been convicted of the illegal use of a weapon, growing drugs, possession of drugs for personal use, possession of drug paraphernalia, entering a closed military area, threatening behaviour, illegal transportation of a foreigner and disturbing a public servant.

Mr Nawi (60) was little known outside the small circle of radical Israeli leftists until 2007 when he was arrested after an altercation with Israeli troops trying to destroy Palestinian Bedouin homes in the West Bank village of Um El Hir. He was sentenced to a month in prison after he was convicted of assault following a lengthy court case during which 20,000 supporters from Israel and worldwide signed a petition asking for clemency.

Speaking to The Irish Timesat the time of the sentencing, Mr Nawi described himself as a thorn in the side of the Israeli authorities, who did not know how to deal with a working-class, openly gay activist who speaks fluent Arabic, learned from his parents who immigrated to Israel from Iraq.

“It’s not about me, it’s about what I stand for,” he said. “It’s all about revenge. The authorities are out to get me to stop my political activism, so they made up allegations and portrayed me as a criminal. But they can’t stop the opposition to the occupation.”

Mr Nawi, who is a plumber in Jerusalem, has spent most of the last decade fighting for the rights of Palestinian villagers in the Hebron hills, in the south of the occupied West Bank. He helped organise dozens of campaigns against demolitions and land confiscations, defending the property of Bedouin villagers against the Israeli civil administration and militant Jewish settlers in the area.

“I’m not just another activist. Over the years I’ve come into contact with dozens of supporters from all over the world,” he said in 2007. “The fact that in Ireland and Europe they care about me – this is our strongest weapon.”