Advocate

Advocate

For almost 50 years, Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel has made a career out of defending Palestinians in Israeli courts: from feminists to fundamentalists, from non-violent demonstrators to armed militants. As far as most Israelis are concerned, she defends the indefensible. As far as most Palestinians are concerned, she's more than an attorney, she’s an advocate. In ADVOCATE, filmmakers Philippe Bellaiche and Rachel Leah Jones deconstruct this controversial figure. While her stated goal is to guarantee a fair trial for her clients within a legal system that regards Palestinian political prisoners as “enemies,” her motives go beyond criminal justice; as the film reveals, Tsemel has always been an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights in the tribunal of public opinion. ADVOCATE follows Tsemel as she takes on two new cases, and illustrates her decades-long clash with the Israeli establishment. As a woman who spoke truth to power before the term became trendy (and will continue to do so after fear makes it unfashionable) on behalf of the far-left, but within the confines of a culture moving ever to the right. Tsemel pushes the definition of a human rights defender to its limits.
For almost 50 years, Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel has made a career out of defending Palestinians in Israeli courts: from feminists to fundamentalists, from non-violent demonstrators to armed militants. As far as most Israelis are concerned, she defends the indefensible. As far as most Palestinians are concerned, she's more than an attorney, she’s an advocate. In ADVOCATE, filmmakers Philippe Bellaiche and Rachel Leah Jones deconstruct this controversial figure. While her stated goal is to guarantee a fair trial for her clients within a legal system that regards Palestinian political prisoners as “enemies,” her motives go beyond criminal justice; as the film reveals, Tsemel has always been an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights in the tribunal of public opinion. ADVOCATE follows Tsemel as she takes on two new cases, and illustrates her decades-long clash with the Israeli establishment. As a woman who spoke truth to power before the term became trendy (and will continue to do so after fear makes it unfashionable) on behalf of the far-left, but within the confines of a culture moving ever to the right. Tsemel pushes the definition of a human rights defender to its limits.