Robert Singer (Jewish leader)

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Robert Singer
Robert Singer World Jewish Congress CEO.jpg
Robert Singer, Chief Executive Officer of the World Jewish Congress, speaking at the Plenary Assembly of the organization in Budapest, Hungary, 6 May 2013
Born1956 (age 64–65)
Alma mater
EmployerWorld Jewish Congress
TitleChief Executive Officer and Executive-Vice President

Robert Singer (born in 1956 in Chernivtsi, Ukraine)[1] is a Jewish organization leader and former Israeli government official. Singer served as the chief executive officer and Executive-Vice President of the World Jewish Congress from May 2013[2] until July 2019,[3] the most senior professional of the international Jewish NGO.[4]

On May 24 Mr. Singer was confirmed as Chair of the Board of Trustees of World ORT.

In 2019, Robert founded Spero Impact Solutions, an impact investment and consulting firm, and is currently serving as its Chairman and CEO. Spero runs business portfolios of companies, funds and governments through the identification and management of investments and philanthropic projects in Israel and abroad.

In 2020, Robert established the Center for Jewish Impact, under the vision of becoming a focal point and center for excellence for innovative and impactful initiatives that deliver benefit to Israel and the Jewish world.

On a voluntary basis as Chairman, Robert leads the NGO's SASA Setton (an Israeli philanthropic social organization that leads education for hospitalized children in Israel) and Alumot Or (an Israeli philanthropic social organization that promotes and implements excellence programs in special education schools).

Education and personal life[edit]

Singer moved to Israel from Ukraine with his family at the age of 15. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Tel Aviv University in 1976. In 1996, he was awarded a Master of Science in Management Engineering from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Between 2005 and 2008, he completed several executive management courses at Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School.[5] Singer is married to Anna, and they have twin daughters.

Asked in an article published in the magazine Jewish Life about what motivated him, he once said that given that he had been born into a family of refuseniks in Ukraine he was encapsulated by an "unrelenting desire to assist Jews and gentiles with economic and educational development, enabling them to find a way out of the most dire of circumstances." Singer added: "Moving to Israel with my family at the age of 15 was the initial catalyst for me being motivated to invest myself wholeheartedly in helping to develop projects for educational and economic development in Israel and the Jewish community worldwide.”[6]

Professional career[edit]

Israeli government and World ORT[edit]

Between 1976 and 1987, Singer served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), including as senior educational officer,[7] an assignment he said which had allowed him "to gain a tremendous amount of life experience, maturity and perspective."[8]

From 1987 to 1999, Singer held positions within the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, serving under the Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prior to joining the World Jewish Congress, Singer worked for 14 years as Director General and CEO of World ORT, the world's largest Jewish education and vocational training network.[9]

World Jewish Congress[edit]

In January 2013, it was announced that Singer would assume the top professional position at the World Jewish Congress[10] which until then was that of Secretary-General[11] but changed to Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice-President when Singer took over at the WJC Plenary Assembly in Budapest in May 2013.[12]

In his speech to the delegates in Budapest, Singer said to "every anti-Semite, every neo-Nazi, every anti-Israel: we are watching you, we are hearing you, we are reading you, and we will not allow you to continue spreading hatred and bigotry. We Jews are united, and we will prevail."[13]

In his CEO Report to the WJC Executive Committee meeting in Paris in March 2014, Singer highlighted a number of structural changes to the organization, notably the creation of a new WJC Program Department, the opening of a WJC representative office in Washington, DC, to strengthen relations with the US government, and the revival of the historic WJC office in Geneva[14] The Jewish Diplomatic Corps, established in 2006 by the organization and for some years an independent body, was reintegrated into the World Jewish Congress structure in 2013 and is now part of the WJC Program Department. Special emphasis was given to the WJC's presence on social networking sites such as Facebook.[15] The International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians and the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which operate under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, were also restructured.

On behalf of the WJC, Singer also made a number of policy statements. He notably expressed alarm that companies would profit from surging digital sales of Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf". Singer told ABC News that "[w]hile the academic study of Mein Kampf is certainly legitimate, the spike in ebook sales likely comes from neo-Nazis and skinheads idolizing the greatest monster in history," and added: "We think that responsible companies shouldn't profiteer from the sales of hate books, or at least should donate the profits to help the victims of anti-Semitism, racism and other like bigotries."[16]

Following the 2014 Gaza conflict and a subsequent surge in anti-Semitic activity, Singer urged European governments to "strengthen police protection of Jewish sites and to ban or disband violent rallies." He urged them to "stop the agitation and protect their Jewish populations, or Jews will ultimately turn their back on those countries. Jews live in Europe by right, not sufferance."[17]

Addressing a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm, Sweden, on 31 August 2014, Singer declared: “Israel and its actions in Gaza are used as an excuse to besiege a synagogue in Paris, to shout ‘Jews to the gas’ on the streets of Berlin, or to attack people wearing a Jewish skullcap. None of this is acceptable, and it is high time that European leaders stand up against these expressions of antisemitism and take action.”[18]

In September 2014, it was announced that the World Jewish Congress would play a leading role in preparing the commemorative events in Auschwitz marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Nazi death camp, in January 2015. In a press release, Singer said: "This will probably mark the last time that so many survivors will be able to join us at Auschwitz, and we must ensure that the unspeakable suffering they and many others had to endure at Auschwitz will not be forgotten once they are no longer among us."[19]

Following the 2015 Copenhagen shootings, Singer traveled to Norway, Denmark, and Finland where he met with the leadership of Jewish communities as well as senior government officials.[20]

In April 2015, he took part in a discussion on the future of Holocaust remembrance as part of the commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the [21] Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in Germany, and Singer then moderated a panel at the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva on the ICRC’s response to the Holocaust during World War II.

In June 2015, Singer addressed a demonstration outside the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, telling the crowd of more than 1,000 Israel supporters that the Council “needs to overcome its obsession with Israel. This obsession is destructive and it stands in the way of an effective human rights policy that is so badly needed.”[22]

During commemorations in Buenos Aires marking the 21st anniversary of the July 1994 bombing of the 1994 AMIA bombing, he criticized the lack of progress in bringing the perpetrators of that terrorist attack to justice.[23]

Singer addressed the 75th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre alongside Ukrainian President Poroshenko and German President Joachim Gauck in September 2016. The sole Ukrainian-Jewish speaker, Singer commended Ukraine for the resurgence of Jewish life and then reminded the world that the lessons of Babi Yar had not yet been learned.[24]

In November 2018, Singer was awarded the Republic of Bulgaria’s First Degree Order of the Madara Horseman by President Rumen Radev in recognition of his efforts to strengthen ties between Bulgaria and the Jewish people.[25]

As CEO of the World Jewish Congress, Singer has met with government, business, and civil society leaders such as US President Barack Obama,[26] Pope Francis,[27] French President François Hollande,[28] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,[29] Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Francois Hollande, Danish Justice Minister Mette Frederiksen,[20] Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chinese Minister of Overseas Affairs Qiu Yuanping,[30] and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.[31]

Robert Singer stepped down as CEO and Executive Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress in July 2019.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Results of the XIV Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest - Euro-Asian Jewish Congress website, 3 June 2013". Eajc.org. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  2. ^ Sokol, Sam (5 May 2013). "Ron Lauder reelected president of WJC - Jerusalem Post, 7 May 2013". Jpost.com. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b Congress, World Jewish. "World Jewish Congress". www.worldjewishcongress.org. Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  4. ^ Maltz, Judy (6 May 2013). "World Jewish Congress elects new members to governing board - Haaretz, 7 May 2013". Haaretz.com. Archived from the original on 28 December 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Biography - Robert Singer - Chief Executive Officer, Executive Vice-President - WJC website". Worldjewishcongress.org. Archived from the original on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  6. ^ "A man in a million - Jewish Life, issue 48, March 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  7. ^ Sokol, Sam (30 January 2013). "Robert Singer named as WJC Secretary General - Jerusalem Post, 28 January 2013". Jpost.com. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  8. ^ "A man in a million - Jewish Life, issue 48, March 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  9. ^ "World ORT Director General to take top professional post at World Jewish Congress - World ORT website, 28 January 2013". Ort.org. 28 January 2013. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  10. ^ Soclof, Adam (28 January 2013). "World Jewish Congress names Robert Singer to top post - JTA, 28 January 2013". Jta.org. Archived from the original on 28 August 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  11. ^ Sokol, Sam (31 January 2013). "Robert Singer named as WJC Secretary General - Jerusalem Post, 31 January 2013". Jpost.com. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  12. ^ "World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in Budapest - WJC website". Worldjewishcongress.org. 8 May 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Video: Robert Singer, WJC Chief Executive Officer - WJC website". Worldjewishcongress.org. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  14. ^ "World Jewish Congress CEO Report, WJC website" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Jewish Diplomatic Corps to rejoin World Jewish Congress - WJC website, 29 August 2013". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  16. ^ "Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' Surges in E-Book Sales - ABC News, 10 January 2014". Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  17. ^ "European governments must act to stem rising anti-Semitism - Jewish Journal, 5 August 2014". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Stockholm: Thousands of Swedes rally against anti-Semitism - WJC website, 31 August 2014". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Press release: USC Shoah Foundation and World Jewish Congress announce global program to support 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz - PR Newswire, 15 September 2014". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  20. ^ a b "WJC CEO meets Scandinavian Jewish and political leaders to discuss security situation - WJC website, 13 March 2015". Archived from the original on 6 May 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Remembering the Shoah: The ICRC and the international community's efforts in responding to genocide and protecting civilians - ICRC press release, 28 April 2015". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  22. ^ "YouTube video of Robert Singer's speech in Geneva, 29 June 2015". Archived from the original on 16 February 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Congreso Mundial Judío lamenta la falta de progreso en el caso AMIA - EFE, 17 July 2015". Archived from the original on 20 August 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  24. ^ Congress, World Jewish. "75 years after Babi Yar: WJC leaders praise 'miracle of Jewish revival in Ukraine', but say world hasn't learned lessons of Holocaust". Archived from the original on 16 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2021.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Daily Kickoff: Inside details of President Obama's meeting with Jewish leaders - Jewish Journal, 5 August 2015". Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  27. ^ "Pope Francis tells Jewish delegation: Christians are now suffering just like you did in the past - Haaretz, 18 September 2014". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  28. ^ "As millions rally against terror, Lauder confers with France's Hollande, Egypt's al-Sisi and Israel's Netanyahu - WJC website". Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  29. ^ "World Jewish Congress leaders participate in Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference - WJC website, 29 June 2014". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Move to strengthen Jewish – Chinese ties - San Diego Jewish News, 24 February 2015". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  31. ^ "Jewish leader warns of new anti-Semitism, praises Stephen Harper - Ottawa Citizen, 8 May 2014". Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2019.