Yoel T. Israel

Israel Unfiltered: How do you impact the entire global Jewish community?

With a long and distinguished career in the military, civil service and civil society, Center for Jewish Impact Chairman and former CEO of the World Jewish Congress Robert Singer has done much to promote Jewish interests in a wealth of fields.

Since his birth in Ukraine in 1956 and subsequent immigration to Israel at the age of 15, Singer has fulfilled several senior positions in the Israeli Prime minister’s Office as Deputy head of NATIV during the fall of the iron curtain (1987-1999), as the CEO of World ORT from 1999 to 2013, and as the CEO of the World Jewish Congress from 2013 to 2019.

Singer has traveled extensively throughout the world, visiting Jewish communities in more than 60 countries while enhancing the WJC and World ORT’s global diplomatic and educational presence. He has participated in meetings with presidents and prime ministers of various nations, as well as prominent government, business, faith and civil society leaders, including Pope Francis, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, International Red Cross President Peter Maurer and many others.

I invited him to speak with me on Israel Unfiltered in order to discuss his extensive work for the global Jewish community, as well as the importance of combating antisemitism in the modern climate.

I began by asking him how it’s possible for an organization like the World Jewish Congress to reliably represent “Jewish interest,” when there seem to be so many — some of which are in competition with each other.

He explained that the task is particularly challenging, “Because within the [hundreds of Jewish] communities, it’s not like everybody accepts the recognition of the representative body of this community, and within every community you have at least five other organizations that are claiming to be the representative body.”

“Broadly speaking, it requires a very strong leadership, which the World Jewish Congress at my time used to have,” he said. “The priorities really come from the present realities at the time. In my time at the World Jewish Congress, the issue of security of Jewish communities became a big issue, [as did the] issue of antisemitism. Neo-Nazi groups became an issue. Assimilation was always an issue, as well as education.”

“All these issues are coming to the table as a kind of ‘collective wisdom’ of all the presidents of Jewish communities worldwide. Obviously, everybody’s pushing in their own direction and for their own needs. But at the end of the day, I think [the WJC] is a very effective body — at least in my years it was pretty effective.”

After some further discussion, I asked Singer to tell me more about his mission to fight antisemitism.

“I was born in Ukraine. And for me antisemitism is something which I’ve known from the age of three. [When we decided to leave Ukraine], I was put in front of the whole school and told I was a traitor of the motherland,” he recalled. “So for me to look at what’s happening today in Europe — both as the CEO of the World Jewish Congress and also just as an Israeli tourist going to different places — the very idea that nearly 80 years after the Second World War, Jews in Europe are thinking twice if to go to pray at the synagogue on Shabbat, or to go around with a kippa, is something which is completely, completely unacceptable and something which really need to be given as decent a fight as possible.”

For Singer, there is at least one silver lining to be found despite the rampant antisemitism going on in Europe. “The good news is that the senior political leadership of Europe understands it. It’s not everybody, but I met many heads, many heads of states, many ministers, prime ministers, presidents, and I sincerely think that most of them understand the problem, and most of them understand also that they have to deal with it.”

About the Author
Yoel Israel is a digital marketing and real estate investor, with a passion for liberal Zionism. Yoel provides an out-of-box perspective and unique interviews about Israelis in the culture. Yoel lives with his wife and daughters in Pardes Chana. He is the founder of,, and IsraelUnfiltered.
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