NEUMANN, EMANUEL (1893–1980), U.S. Zionist leader. Neumann was born in Libau (Liepaja), Latvia, and was brought to the United States by his parents shortly after his birth. He received a B.A. in modern languages and a doctorate of laws from Columbia University; he practiced law in New York City for many years while dedicating much of his life to the establishment and development of the state of Israel.
Active in American Zionist affairs from his youth, Neumann edited the Young Judean in 1914–15, and served as education director of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) in 1918–20. Neumann was later elected president of the ZOA in 1947–49, and again in 1956–58.
As a co-founder of the *Keren Hayesod in the U.S. in 1921, Neumann served as its director from 1921 to 1925 and was chairman of the executive committee of the United Palestine Appeal from 1925–28. He was also president of the Jewish National Fund in the U.S. from 1929 to 1930, and from 1931 to 1941 he was a member of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. Returning to the U.S., he was political representative of the Jewish Agency in Washington during the 1940s and instrumental in winning influential political figures to Zionism.
In 1943 Neumann organized and directed the work of the Commission on Palestine Surveys that presented an investment proposal of approximately $200 million in irrigation facilities and hydroelectric power development in the Jordan Valley.
A close collaborator of Abba Hillel *Silver in influencing the Jewish community and American public opinion to the post-World War II Zionist program, Neumann served with Silver as vice chairman of the American Zionist Emergency Council.
In 1947 he was a member of the Jewish Agency panel in its unsuccessful negotiations with England and a member of the agency's delegation to the UN Special Committee on Palestine which recommended that Palestine be partitioned. Although Neumann had opposed partition, he accepted the committee's recommendation as the best that the Jews would be able to obtain. After Israel's establishment, Neumann devoted himself to obtaining military and economic aid, and political sympathy for the country.
From 1951 to 1953 he headed the Jewish Agency's economic department and its information and public relations department. He was appointed chairman of the United States section of the World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency in 1956, a position he held until 1972. Neumann also founded the Herzl Foundation in 1954 and the Tarbuth Foundation for the Advancement of Hebrew Culture in 1961, and served as inaugural president for both organizations.
In 1958, he led a majority of the World Conference of General Zionists into a new organization of the same name, remaining as president until 1963 when he was elected president of the World Union of General Zionists. While in these positions, Neumann voiced the belief that while Jews in the United States owed political allegiance only to the United States, their spiritual allegiance belonged to their Jewish heritage. In 1976, he published In The Arena: An Autobiographical Memoir. He died in Tel Aviv.
Alfred E. Clark, Obituary, New York Times (Oct. 27, 1980).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.