Israeli and Americans have launched a campaign to generate political pressure on Israel's government and judiciary to release Amiram Ben-Uliel, sentenced to more than three life terms based on confessions elicited under torture.
Organizers of the campaign have urged Americans to contact their members of Congress ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 8 to seek clarification of the conviction and sentencing of Ben-Uliel, accused of a lethal arson attack on an Arab home in the Samarian town of Duma in 2015.
They said the Israeli Supreme Court decision that upheld his sentencing as well as the admissibility of confessions elicited under torture places everybody, including more than 1 million Americans in Israel, under threat.
Another suspect in the Duma case was an unidentified minor with US citizenship.
"The Supreme Court ruling that essentially legalizes torture is a game-changer for Israel as a bastion of democracy and human rights," said Gila Slonim, who has mobilized hundreds of people for the lobbying campaign. "We would rather deal with the issue here, but the sad fact is that we in Israel have no voice."
Over the last few weeks, three Zoom meetings have been held in which participants were told how to approach their House and Senate representatives. So far, numerous members of Congress have been reached and urged to clarify the torture of Ben-Uliel and the Supreme Court approval with the Israeli government.
The Zoom sessions included briefings by prominent jurists in Israel and the United States. They included one of Israel's most prominent lawyers, Avigdor Feldman, well-known for his left-wing views and defense of Arabs. Feldman agreed to take on the appeal, together with Yehoshua Resnic, former Deputy State Attorney, because of the clear aberration of human rights.
"For the first time," Feldman recalled, "I saw an organized listing of torture methods -- how long each method was employed on the body of the one being interrogated, how many times each procedure was repeated, and the various auxiliary aids that were designed to produce visceral pain."
The campaign has been supported by the Israeli legal rights group Honenu, which provided attorneys for Ben-Uliel. Honenu has highlighted the trial, sentencing, and appeal, as well as the methods of torture approved by the Supreme Court.
"We have pursued, and continue to pursue, all legal avenues," Honenu director Shmuel Meidad (Zangy) said. "We believe that a decision was made to convict Ben-Uliel regardless of the facts. This is frightening and unacceptable in a democratic country. We must therefore turn to all sources in order that justice is done and Ben-Uliel is released and acquitted of the crime which he did not commit."
According to the organizers, there is a glimmer of hope within the legal system and a request has been submitted for an en banc hearing in which the case would be heard before additional judges of the Supreme Court.
Organizers said similar campaigns have succeeded in releasing Israeli Jews wrongfully prosecuted.
"Our campaign is based purely on the request of constituents to the member of Congress, most of them running in the elections on Nov. 8," Ms. Slonim said. "We believe that these incumbents, regardless of their personal or political positions, will be very attentive to their constituents, simply because they represent votes."