Neal M. Sher is an American lawyer who is the former head of the Office of Special Investigations and former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Since 2002, he has been a solo practitioner in New York City.
Sher graduated Cornell University in 1968 and New York University Law School in 1972. He clerked for Judge Barrington D. Parker for two years, and then worked in a Washington, DC law firm from 1974 to 1979, before joining the United States Department of Justice.
From 1983 to 1994, Sher headed the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the Justice Department’s Nazi prosecution unit, where he oversaw the denaturalization and deportation of dozens of onetime Nazi war criminals. His investigation of the Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim led to Waldheim’s placement on the watch list of persons ineligible to enter the United States. In 1989, Sher received the Raoul Wallenberg Award for his work.
Sher was the executive director of AIPAC from 1994 to 1996. As director, Sher led AIPAC's support of the Oslo Accords, sparring with rival lobbyists Zionist Organization of America over the issue. Sher apparently clashed with the board of directors, however, and resigned shortly after Benjamin Netanyahu's surprise victory in the 1996 Israel prime ministerial election to return to work on Holocaust-related issues.
In the documentary "I have Never Forgotten You" about famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Sher is shown criticizing Wiesenthal with his statement, "There were and still remain today alive, many people who personally suffered at the hands of Joseph Mengele and to hold out hope to them, and these people held out hope, that their tormenter, their torturer, this mass murderer would be brought to justice, when the information was not accurate, I think is cruel."
In 1998, Sher became chief of staff for the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. Sher resigned in June 2002 after a Baltimore Sun investigation disclosed that Sher had received over $5000 for some first-class air travel to Europe, and he disclosed to the commission that he had received "unauthorized reimbursements." According to the chair, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, Sher made "immediate and full restitution" after self-disclosing the violation.
In 2003, Sher consented to disbarment from the District of Columbia. Sher said he agreed to disbarment because he could not afford to litigate the matter, and remains a member of the New York bar;, despite a provision of New York law, 22 NYCRR 603.3, which requires "reciprocal" disbarment for any attorney disbarred in another jurisdiction. The agreement means that there is no public record of the bar's investigation.
- Cattan, Nacha (2003-09-05). "Restitution Leader Disbarred by Court After Investigation Of Job Misconduct". The Forward. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- Neal Sher, In hindsight, Carter book seen as part of an awkward pattern, December 26, 2006
- Tomasson, Robert (1989-03-26). "Social Events". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- Dorf, Matthew (1996-05-31). "AIPAC head of 2 years resigns amid mystery over reason why". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- "Israel's upset vote calls for new faces on Embassy Row". The Washington Times. 1996-06-04.
- Bazyler, Michael J. (2005). Holocaust Justice. NYU Press. p. 161. ISBN 0-8147-9904-3.
- Garland, Greg (2002-02-03). "Holocaust Heirs Fight 'Resistance' Over Reparations". Baltimore Sun. pp. 1A.
- Schoenberg, Tom (2003-09-12). "The Unraveling of Neal Sher". Legal Times. American Lawyer Media. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- "Board of Professional Responsibility report" (PDF). District of Columbia Bar Board of Professional Responsibility. 2003-08-06. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- District of Columbia Court of Appeals. "In the Matter of Neal M. Sher, Case No. 03-BG-841" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- "New York State Bar registration, Neal Sher". Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- "Talansky Lawyer Is Communal Insider With His Own Past Scandal". The Forward. 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2009-02-21.