Israel Policy Forum mourns the passing of Theodore R. Mann, a former chairman of Israel Policy Forum, who was among the earliest and most vocal supporters in the American Jewish community for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

As president of the American Jewish Congress, Mann led a task force in 1987 that concluded that Israel could not remain Jewish and democratic should it retain the West Bank, recognizing the necessity of a two-state outcome long before it was a consensus position in the American Jewish community. Speaking alongside Abba Eban in late 1980, shortly after concluding his term as Chairman of the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations, Mann said: 

“With Judea and Samaria, Israel is holding, to use Thomas Jefferson’s words, ‘a wolf by the ears:’ It is torn between the dangers of letting go and the dangers of holding on. The dangers of letting go relate to security. The dangers of holding on do not. We, all of us, must consider those dangers of holding on even if Israel, and Israel alone, must ultimately decide whether they are outweighed by the dangers of letting go.”

As Israel Policy Forum Board Member Marc Stanley recalled, “Ted Mann was the proverbial canary in a coal mine.  He was one of the first American Jewish leaders to recognize (in the late 1970s) the challenges presented by long term occupation and failure to achieve a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Mann launched Project Nishma as founding chair in 1988 to organize American Jewish leaders in support of the nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He later led the merger of Project Nishma with Israel Policy Forum in 1997 in an effort to bolster efforts in Washington in support of the Oslo Accords, highlighting the support of a wide array of retired Israeli generals and security experts. He led numerous pioneering initiatives to bring together the Jewish and Muslim communities, and engaged in track two diplomatic trips and discussions designed to build support for and advance peace between Israel and its neighbors. Mann’s work was informed by the belief that, in his own words, “There is no alternative to peace, and there are no benefits from protracting the process, only unacceptable risks.”

Mann devoted his life in service of the global Jewish community. He played an instrumental role in prominent Jewish causes, including as leader of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, as founding chair of Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and as a trustee at the New Israel Fund. Robert K. Lifton, Israel Policy Forum’s founding chair and Mann’s successor as president of the American Jewish Congress reflected that “Ted was personally committed to positions and views reflecting the best of humanity striving constantly to improve our society. He had a strong commitment to Israel, which he wanted to achieve the best it could be.”

Our thoughts are with Ted’s family, friends, and his colleagues at the many organizations whose work he impacted in his efforts to make the world a better place. May his memory be for a blessing.