Curiouser And Curiouser – David Norris, John Connolly, Labour And Israel

I reported earlier on the controversy swirling around Senator David Norris and the revelations over the criminal offences of his ex-partner, Ezra Yizhak Nawi, and the story just seems to grow and grow. From the Journal.ie:

‘DAVID NORRIS’ PRESIDENTIAL hopes remain in the balance today as both Israel and the Labour party have been forced to deny a plot to end his Áras dream.

The independent senator has been under pressure after it emerged over the weekend that he wrote a letter, using Seanad headed paper, seeking clemency for his friend and former partner Ezra Yizhak Nawi who was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy in the Israeli courts in 1997.

The Irish Independent reports that the Israeli embassy has been forced to deny claims it is behind  the emergence of the letter from 1997 in which Norris asked an Israeli court to show “mercy” to Nawi.

The Labour party presidential hopeful Michael D Higgins has also denied that he or anyone else in his campaign leaked the information about Norris and the letter, according to the Irish Times.

The blogger who broke the story a week ago has revealed he has been deluged with hate mail as a result of his actions. John Connolly told the Irish Independent that he is a Zionist and had a problem with Norris’ “outspoken criticism of Israel”.

He said he was inspired to investigate the letter after he was tipped off by a person he had been friends with in Ireland, admitting that person may have been a supporter of Higgins.

Meanwhile, the Irish Daily Mail today reports that Norris continued his relationship with Nawi for four years after the conviction was handed down. In 2002, Norris is reported to have told journalist Joe Jackson that his relationship with Nawi lasted 26 years and ended in 2001.’

Even allowing for typical media hysteria (and the more paranoid fantasies of Norris supporters) something about how this story broke is odd.

Meanwhile John Connolly has offered a defence of his actions on his blog:

‘Due to the vile anti-Semitic bile coming out of many of David Norris’s defenders (and some people who are just deranged), I am compelled to make certain matters more clear on my original story on David Norris and Ezra Nawi, and the process that went into publicizing it. It should be known that the only contact I had with any Israelis, in posting the original piece on Monday, was getting some friends to help with the translation of Hebrew material. That is all. The Israeli Embassy obviously got wind of the story eventually (I posted it on their Facebook wall, after all) but many Irish journalists and personalities knew about this from me before they did. When the story broken here gained momentum, it was only a matter of time before evidence of Norris’s assistance to Nawi came out. Norris openly admitted years ago to helping Nawi and his Arab lover when they were in legal difficulties abroad (even in relation to matters like work permits). Unless he used self-destructing paper or smoke signals for secrecy, once the story went national the gritty details could never have been kept secret. I never had those papers, and never claimed to have them.

If I came by information like this on any person running for office, I would publish it in whatever way I could.

This is despite the motives of the person who inspired me to do the research in the first place. Here is something I have been emphatic about from the beginning: My friend is a trade unionist. That is what I meant by saying ‘labour movement’ when I spoke to the media. It does not necessarily mean Labour Party. However, recently it hit home that the person is fond of Michael D. Higgins and canvassed for him many elections ago. That has unnerved me a bit.

Some people have made an issue out of nothing on hearing I am going to Israeli sources for more information on Nawi and his relationship with Norris. Yes, indeed I am. It doesn’t mean Israeli sources were behind the original piece I wrote, like many are insinuating.’

All of which is fair enough, but the revelations over the links to the Labour Party and the manner in which the story was leaked does leave some questions to be answered.

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