The Israel Bar Association backtracked today (Monday) and cancelled its appointment of controversial Israeli attorney Lea Tsemel to head its Military Courts Committee, according to sources in the Bar Association.
On Sunday, the Bar Association voted to reappoint Tsemel to head its Military Courts Committee, sparking outrage among bereaved families.
Tsemel, who has served as head of the Bar Association’s Military Courts Committee for the past eight years, has gained notoriety for her adamant defense of terrorists with blood on their hands.
Tsemel most recently defended Arafat Arafiah, who murdered and raped 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher in February 2019.
Tsemel has also represented members of Hamas, the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Abdel Aziz Salha, who took part in the 2000 lynching of two IDF soldiers in Ramallah and was pictured in the infamous photograph waving his blood-soaked hands after the lynching.
Following the appointment, more than 100 bereaved families from the Choosing Life Forum accompanied by the Zionist watchdog Im Tirtzu sent a harsh letter to Avi Himmi, head of the Israel Bar Association.
In their letter, the families called the appointment “an unparalleled disgrace” and a “spit in the face of thousands of Israelis who have been murdered over the years,” and urged Himmi to cancel Tsemel’s appointment.
The Choosing Life Forum hailed the cancellation as a “victory of common sense.”
Eran Ben-Ari, the legal counsel for Im Tirtzu and member of the Bar Association’s National Council, also welcomed the decision.
“Tsemel will no longer be able to use the political power of the Bar Association to influence military judges,” said Ben-Ari.
In December, a biopic about Tsemel made the shortlist for an Oscar nomination in the Best Documentary Feature category.
The film “Advocate,” has received harsh criticism in Israel for portraying Tsemel in a positive light.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)