On visit to Estonia, WJC CEO Robert Singer urges authorities to ‘act swiftly and vigorously’ against all signs of extremism

TALLINN – World Jewish Congress CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer visited Tallinn last month to celebrate with the Estonian Jewish community the triple anniversary marking 30 years since the revival of Jewish life in the country, 70 years since the creation of the State of Israel, and 100 years since the rebirth of Estonia as an independent country. 

In an address to a special conference organized for the occasion, Singer thanked the Estonian government for its ongoing support to the community, but noted that “unfortunately, as in many countries, anti-Semitism is an ongoing problem” and urged authorities to “act swiftly and vigorously” to signs of hatred and Nazi glorification in its streets, calling such manifestations "completely inconsistent with the proud traditions of this country and can only damage its good name.” Credit: Maya Cimeša Samokovlija

Over the course of his three-day visit, Singer met with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mikhelson, Chairman of the Jewish Community of Estonia Alla Jakobson and other senior officials.

In his address to the conference on Monday, Singer said: “I am very happy to be here today to celebrate the anniversary of three great events in our common history.” During the years of the Iron Curtain, Singer said, nobody “could have imagined that the chains would break and that Estonia and other captive nations would be released… Thirty years ago, Jewish communal life in Estonia was revived and Estonian Jews were able to renew their traditions and identity, Today, just over 70 years since the Holocaust, the Jewish community of Estonia is again able to stand tall, as proud Jews and proud Estonians. You are a small, but incredibly active and vibrant community.”

Singer praised the community’s relationship to the Estonian government, noting that it has grown very strong over the years, with the community’s “opinions and concerns listened to, and treated seriously. The community is able to have honest and active discussions with state representatives on issues of importance, such as security, culture, and education.” 

The WJC CEO also reflected on the legacy of Estonia during the Holocaust, noting that, “in 1942, Estonia was the first country under German rule to be declared Judenfrei. Because of its proximity to the Soviet Union, most Jews were able to escape, but about 1,000 who remained behind were murdered by the Germans and, chillingly, by their local Estonian helpers,” while the 6th Estonian Security Police Battalion participated in the mass murder of thousands of Jews in Nowogrodek in Belarus and staffed a number of concentration camps in Estonia. “It is important for Estonia to confront this legacy, to examine this chapter of its past, and to transmit it to future generations,” Singer said.

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