David A. Brody, 88, the former chief lobbyist for the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and a force in pressing for legislation affecting civil rights and Jewish interests, died June 26 at the Washington Home hospice. He had had several strokes in the past nine years.
The ADL was founded in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice in the United States. After working as a government lawyer, Mr. Brody joined the ADL in 1949 and was its top lobbying official from 1965 to 1989.
A short, energetic, ubiquitous man once dubbed "the 101st senator" by Democrats and Republicans, he created an impressive network of contacts over informal lunches and dinners that helped him attain key access to lawmakers and opinion-makers. He often was waved beyond signs marked "Senators Only" on the subway and elevators in the Capitol.
In the 1960s, he helped civil rights leaders by persuading Southern legislators to make roll calls and support bills for fair housing and fair employment.
He also lobbied aggressively for legislation affecting U.S. companies doing business with Arab nations that imposed an economic boycott of Israel; the Jackson-Vanik amendment, U.S. trade sanctions imposed on the Soviet Union because of its treatment of Jewish dissidents; and arms sales and other aid packages for Israel.
"You can't win over the Arabs by weakening Israel," he once told the New York Times. "If Israel receives the aid it needs, it's in a better position to compromise. A weakened Israel cannot."
In March 1977, while at B'nai B'rith headquarters, he was one of dozens held hostage for 39 hours by Hanafi Muslims. Released on the day of his 34th wedding anniversary, he went home calmly, answered concerned phone calls, slept and went out for dinner the next night.
David Allan Brody, the son of a Russian immigrant garment worker, was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a graduate of the City College of New York. He was a 1940 graduate of Columbia University law school, which he attended on a scholarship.
He came to Washington to do legal work at the Rural Electrification Administration. During World War II, he was a legal assistance officer at the naval prison in Portsmouth, N.H.
On Capitol Hill, he nourished a reputation as a whirlwind matchmaker, creating lunchtime friendships with the passion of a dervish. He united congressmen, White House aides, ambassadors, fundraisers and reporters.
"It's not so much that people are beholden to me as it's a matter of providing greater access for me," he once said.
"If I happen to be in a member's office and a name comes up," he added, "we'll often set up a lunch right then."
He also noted his fondness for throwing off-the-record dinner parties at his home in the District.
In retirement, he did private lobbying work. Among his clients was the corn-broom industry. He was successful in getting the government to reinstate import duties after the North American Free Trade Agreement was enacted.
At home, he amassed a collection of antique Chinese snuff bottles. He also played tennis.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Beatrice Kramer Brody of Washington; two children, Ann Brody of Port Jefferson, N.Y., and Michael Brody of Reston; a brother; and three grandsons.