Israel Policy Forum is profoundly saddened by the passing of our longtime board member Melvyn I. Weiss, z”l, a tireless advocate for Israel and the Jewish people.

Mel was one of the longest serving lay leaders of Israel Policy Forum, and his passion for our cause was inspiring and infectious. He was especially instrumental in sparking the reemergence of Israel Policy Forum’s work in recent years.

His leadership in the Jewish community was legendary. Among his many achievements, Mel led the negotiations with Swiss banks which produced a $1.25 billion settlement for Holocaust survivors and their heirs. He also served as chair of the Hatikva Project to build the memorial park in Buenos Aires to commemorate the 29 people who lost their lives in the Israeli embassy bombing in 1992, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited during his historic trip to Argentina this past fall. Mel received numerous honorary awards from the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai Brith International, UJA-Federation of New York, and many others.

Mel was an especially passionate defender of the State of Israel and a steadfast warrior against the scourge of anti-Semitism. In his remarks to a 2004 United Nations General Assembly conference on anti-Semitism, Mel said, “Let us be abundantly clear about this: It is legitimate, even important at times, to criticize the Israeli government’s policies and actions. But it is wrong – verboten – to deny the Jewish people its right to national self-determination and a state in the Land of Israel.”

He continued to say, “Anti-Semitism is a malignant cancer in the social fiber that makes the intricate mosaic of human society. For this reason, world leaders, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, and international organizations – primarily the UN – must devote effort to understanding its dynamics, to correcting and condemning popular, unjustified and stereotypical perceptions of Jews, to punish perpetrators of hatred against Jews and to eradicating anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

For those of us who had the privilege to know Mel, we will deeply miss his gentle nature and genuine kindness, compassion, and attentiveness to the needs of so many in our wider community. We were honored to be associated with him and will be forever blessed by his memory. Our thoughts are with his wife Bobbi and the entire Weiss family.