Leah Tsemel

Israeli lawyer

Lea Tsemel (born 1945) is an anti-Zionist Jewish human rights lawyer who has represented Palestinians accused of violence in Israel. Her husband is Michel Warschawski.

Leah Tsemel (2019)



"The Israeli who defends suicide bombers," 2003


The Israeli who defends suicide bombers. BBC News, 24 July, 2003. Retrieved on 29 October, 2005.

  • The occupation made it very clear to me that there was something wrong, and I started to ask myself all kinds of questions and came to the conclusion that Zionism is negative and bad, and that we are oppressing the Palestinians.
  • Everyone fights with their abilities - the Israelis have helicopters and rockets and the Palestinians have nothing but themselves and some very primitive home-made explosives.
  • I grew up in an Israeli culture where suicide attackers are really heroes. Look at Samson, who in order to fight the Philistines in Gaza made the theatre collapse on himself and all the civilians there. He is a very big hero among Jewish children. I grew up on the myth of better suicide than surrender. So what is so special about suicide bombers?
  • I don't understand why people would find my views abhorrent. If you ask any Israeli to put himself in a similar situation of occupation and oppression for 36 years - everyone would say they would do the same, including [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon. I never heard any similar criticism from those Israelis who are shocked by the killing of women and children in suicide attacks, of an Israeli rocket attack that kills Palestinian civilians.
  • I don't support such actions or see this as the solution, but I can very well understand how suicide bombings became a very popular way of fighting - first, because it is quite successful; secondly, because people are ready to risk everything in order to achieve some progress in the national struggle.
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