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BBC Storyville – Advocate: A Lawyer without Borders (2020)

BBC Storyville 2020 Advocate A Lawyer without Borders

Jewish lawyer Lea Tsemel is a controversial figure in Israel. For the last 50 years, she has fearlessly defended Palestinians prosecuted in Israeli courts for resisting the occupation both violently and non-violently. Taking on tough cases, including charges of terrorism, the odds are stacked sharply against her. To many Israelis, Lea defends the indefensible, but for Palestinians she is more than a lawyer, she is an advocate.

This documentary follows Tsemel’s caseload, including the high-profile trial of 13-year-old Ahmed – her youngest client to date – charged with the attempted murder of two Israelis for his involvement in a stabbing attack. Ahmed, whose 15-year-old cousin led the attack but was killed by police on the scene, now depends on Lea to prove he had no intent to kill, in order to save him from a lengthy sentence in an adult prison.

The film also gets deep under the skin of Lea herself, tracing her landmark cases and revealing how her political activism as a rebellious student came to shape her career as a defender of human rights. The film explores the political significance of her work and the personal price one pays for taking on the role of devil’s advocate.

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