2014, Sat, Mar 15

Anarchists Against the Law

Michael Sfard in conversation with Susan Schuppli, Introduction. Ayesha Hameed

After the end of the 2008/2009 attack on Gaza in which Israeli military lawyers were "creatively" interpreting the laws of war, Michael Sfard called these legal advisors “anarchists against the law”, designating a strange inversion. In this conversation Sfard, Israel’s foremost activist-lawyer, will discuss the new phenomena of "forensic warfare" or "lawfare" and new avenues for legal activism designed to confront Israel’s occupation.

Michael Sfard is a lawyer specializing in international human rights law and the laws of war. He has served as counsel in numerous important cases on these topics in Israel. Sfard grew up in Jerusalem and served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as a military paramedic. He was a conscientious objector and spent three weeks in military prison because of his refusal to serve in Hebron. He obtained his law degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, after which he apprenticed with Attorney Avigdor Feldman and worked in Feldman’s office for five years. During this period, he spent one year studying in London, where he completed a master’s degree in International Human Rights Law at University College London (UCL). In early 2004, Sfard opened his own legal practice in Tel Aviv. Today Sfard is the legal adviser to several Israeli human rights organizations and peace groups (such as Yesh Din, Peace Now, and Breaking the Silence) and represents Palestinian communities (such as the village of Bil’in) and Israeli and Palestinian activists.

Susan Schuppli is an artist and writer as well as senior research fellow and project coordinator on the Forensic Architecture project. Prior to working at Goldsmiths she was associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She received her doctorate in 2009 between the Centres for Cultural Studies and Research Architecture at Goldsmiths and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program after completing her MFA at the University of California San Diego. Her creative projects have been exhibited throughout Canada, USA, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Forthcoming exhibitions include Casino Luxembourg and Stroom Den Haag. Her written work has appeared in Cabinet, Photoworks, Borderlands, Cosmos & History, Memory Studies, and publications by Academia Press, Imprensa Nacional, Ciel Variable, Sternberg Press, Yale University Press, and Cambridge Scholars Press. She is author of the forthcoming book, Material Witness: Forensic Media and the Production of Evidence (MIT Press, 2015), which is also the subject of an experimental documentary.