about

SIGNAL Group

SIGNAL Group is a think tank that empowers Israel to address China’s rise on the world stage. A hub for capacity building and policy entrepreneurship, SIGNAL Group and its global network are a resource for Israel’s policy community regarding Chinese statecraft, China in the Middle East, and the US-China rivalry. SIGNAL Group engages Beijing and Chinese universities to redress misconceptions about Israel and the Middle East.

Policy – SIGNAL Group’s policy initiatives provide tools to manage more effective relations with China. The policy initiatives are designed to better enable Israel to navigate the U.S.-China rivalry, while dispelling misconceptions in China about Israel and the Middle East. Our Global Israel Initiative (GII) advances an innovative agenda for Israel as a middle power on the global stage to bolster Israel’s agency and strategic autonomy. The GII seeks opportunities for Israel to forge new coalitions and diplomatic initiatives with partners in the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East, and Europe. SIGNAL Group endeavors to develop fresh policy options to fortify Israel’s geopolitical position. SIGNAL Group’s policy work in China includes hundreds of briefings, dialogues and events engaging Chinese diplomats, experts, and scholars with prominent Israeli peers on topical strategic themes regarding China-Israel and China-Middle East affairs.

Research – SIGNAL Group’s research on China’s domestic developments and foreign affairs informs its policy work and contributes to developing actionable insights for Israeli decision-makers. Focusing on the opportunities and challenges associated with China’s growing role and presence in the Middle East, SIGNAL Group’s research team taps into its field work in China and its global network of expertise to augment its findings, policy recommendations, and initiatives.

University Programs – Israel Studies in China and the Indo-Pacific – Since 2011, SIGNAL Group has cooperated with Chinese universities to establish its signature model of Israel Studies Programs featuring a semester-long training program in Israel for Chinese university lecturers resulting in a course they develop about Israel to teach back home. Nearly 70 SIGNAL Group-trained lecturers annually expose thousands of Chinese students, including future diplomats, business leaders, and Middle East experts, to Israel’s history, society, and regional relations. In 2023, SIGNAL Group is expanding its Israel Studies Programs beyond the 20 Chinese universities to India and is assessing potential university cooperation with other countries in the region.

Engaging Israel’s national security & foreign policy establishmentInfused in all of SIGNAL Group’s work is a focus on enhancing knowledge and insights to support Israel’s decision-making regarding China. Through its Annual Policy Conference, regular briefings in Israel, in-depth research, and quarterly “China Policy Insights” in Hebrew, SIGNAL Group strives to foster greater understanding of Chinese statecraft with a focus on cultural intelligence. To that end, in 2023, SIGNAL Group launched the Goodman Fellowship, an executive training program focusing on experiential learning for mid-level civil service managers responsible for shaping Israel’s China policy. Creating a coterie of China expertise across the government, the Goodman Fellowship includes a SIGNAL Group-designed and led study tour in Beijing and Tokyo.

SIGNAL Group builds capacity among Israel’s decision-makers – current and future – to chart the nation’s course on the evolving world stage where China’s impact will only continue to grow.

the team

Carice Witte

Founder and Executive Director

Carice Witte is the Founder and Executive Director of SIGNAL Group (Sino-Israel Global Network & Academic Leadership), an Israeli policy and organization that specializes on China-Israel and China-Middle East affairs. Ms. Witte initiated Chinese-Israeli Track-II exchanges in 2011. The same year, Ms. Witte initiated an annual program held in Israel for Chinese faculty on teaching Israel Studies as well as the establishment of Israel Studies Programs (ISPs) at universities across China.

Having led over 1,000 briefings in China and Israel, she established an annual conference on Israel’s China policy in 2016 and a semi-annual China-Israel and annual China-Israel-U.S. Track-II dialogue in 2017. In 2019, Ms. Witte launched a seminar series for international China experts and policy professionals that evolved during covid-19 into a monthly gathering. In 2022 Ms. Witte, began developing SIGNAL Group’s new strategic agenda to strengthen Israel’s geostrategic position in the context of China’s growing role on the world stage and especially in the Middle East as well as the increasing tensions between Beijing and Washington.

An expert on China and China-Israel affairs, Ms. Witte is a leading contributor to defining this field of policy research in Israel. Ms. Witte has authored articles, research and policy analysis papers on Sino-Israel relations, China’s evolving policy reforms and their impact on Israel and strategic communication. Her research focuses on Israel’s China’s foreign and domestic policy as it impacts Israel and the region, China’s work in the United Nations, China’s Global Security Initiative and Global Civilizations Initiative and China and the Middle East.

Ms. Witte is on the board of the Israel Council on Foreign Affairs. She immigrated to Israel from the US in 1987. Prior to forming SIGNAL Group, Ms. Witte pursued an entrepreneurial career in international real estate and Israeli high-tech, working with leading European banks. She is a graduate of Yale University. Ms. Witte has 5 children and 4 grandchildren.

Tommy Steiner

Policy Director

Tommy Steiner is the Policy Director of SIGNAL Group and is affiliated with several international policy institutes. Tommy is an Honorary Fellow of the Middle East Institute (MEI) at the National University of Singapore, an Associate Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, and a Senior Fellow at Cevro Institute’s Prague Center for Transatlantic Relations (PCTR). Concurrently, Tommy is an Adjunct Lecturer and teaches International Relations and Strategic Studies at the Lauder School of Government at IDC Herzliya, Israel. Until recently, Tommy was a senior research fellow at IDC Herzliya’s Institute for Policy and Strategy. A member of the founding team of the Annual Herzliya Conference Series, Tommy managed the Conference series from 2007 through 2013 – a period during which the Conference became considered one of the top international policy conferences. Tommy served as the executive director of the Atlantic Forum of Israel, a network-based policy organization that promoted and advanced Israel’s relations with the Transatlantic Community and Europe, and which was especially instrumental in enhancing NATO-Israel relations. Tommy’s fields of expertise include, global politics and international security, transatlantic relations, international relations of the Middle East, and Israel’s foreign relations. In his areas of expertise, Tommy is regularly interviewed by Israeli media and advises Israeli authorities, international organizations, and think-tanks around the world.

Dr. Ori Goldberg

Director of Research and Academia

Dr. Ori Goldberg is a Senior Research Fellow and Academic Director at SIGNAL Group. Dr. Goldberg’s academic work studies the relationship between religion and politics in the Middle East. His graduate and doctoral studies dealt with revolutionary Iran, and he is the author of  Shi’i Theology in Iran: The Challenge of Religious Experience (Routledge); Understanding Shi’te Leadership (Cambridge University Press);and Faith and Politics in Iran, Israel and the Islamic State: Theologies of the Real (Cambridge University Press).
 
Dr. Goldberg has taught and spoken at many universities in Israel and across the world, including Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the University of Oslo, China Foreign Affairs University and Tsinghua University.
 

Dr. Goldberg has worked as a consultant with Israeli defense organizations, from the IDF to the Israeli PMO . He has been an active participant in SIGNAL Group’s track II dialogues and engagements for the past seven years, developing substantive knowledge of Chinese thought and policy.

Julia Rose Cole

Director of Operations and Communications

Ms. Julia Cole manages the projects, events, operations, and communications across all of SIGNAL Group’s departments. 

Immigrating to Israel from the United States in 2017, Ms. Cole has understood the importance of effective cross-cultural communication. She earned her MA from the University of St Andrews in International Relations, and an MSc from the London School of Economics in Comparative Politics. Ms. Cole specialized in Middle Eastern History and Politics and Ethnic Nationalism. 

Before working at SIGNAL Group, she was the Research and Communications Associate at IMPACT-se. Ms. Cole served in the Israel Defense Forces as a non-commissioned Officer in the International Cooperation Unit – Military Strategic Information Section (MSIS). She was released upon service completion with the rank of Sergeant.

Anastasia Zybkovets

Project Coordinator

Ms. Anastasia Zybkovets coordinates SIGNAL Group’s projects and events associated with China.

Before immigrating to Israel in 2022, Ms. Zybkovets received her Bachelor’s Diploma with Distinction at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow, as a linguist. Her passion for China led to studying the language and culture at Beijing Jiaotong University following 6 years of language study in Russia. Ms. Zybkovets applies her cross-cultural communication skills to liaising with faculty and students at Chinese universities with Israel Studies programs in cooperation with SIGNAL Group.

Prior to joining SIGNAL Group, Ms. Zybkovets worked at Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd, building connections with leading technical Russian Universities, hiring top hi-tech students, and organizing educational events. She is fluent in Russian, English, and Chinese and is now learning Hebrew.

Guan Yuan (Helen)

China's Program Coordinator

Ms. Guan Yuan joined SIGNAL Group as an intern in translation in 2012. She officially  joined the SIGNAL Group team as a professional translator in late 2013 after attaining her MA in English Translation and Interpretation from China University of Petroleum. Ms. Guan focused on translating materials for the Israel Resources Center, a SIGNAL Group on-line library of introductory to scholarly materials about Israel.  Ms. Guan’s years of association with SIGNAL Group have provided important insights into Israel that facilitate the subtly accurate translations. In 2014, Ms. Guan’s role at SIGNAL Group expanded to include ISP (Israel Studies Program) Coordinator in China in March 2014, assisting SIGNAL Group in establishing and supporting the study of Israel at universities across China.  In 2016, Ms. Guan became SIGNAL Group’s China coordinator, adding to her area of responsibility the management of SIGNAL Group’s quarterly delegations of scholars and experts from Israel to Beijing. Ms. Guan visited Israel in 2013 on an academic exchange program at Ben Gurion University to expand her expertise on Israel.  She returned to Israel in 2019 to accompany the Chinese delegation from the School of International Studies (SIS) of Renmin University for the SIGNAL Group-SIS China-Israel-US annual track II dialogue. 

Ms. Guan has over 9 years’ experience in international business and translation.

Aryeh Tepper

China Academic Conference Director

Dr. Aryeh Tepper oversees SIGNAL Group’s academic initiatives, including the Israel Studies Program (ISP) in China and Faculty Fellowship Program (FFP) in Israel. Aryeh is also a Fellow at The Azrieli Center for Israel Studies at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute, BGU, and serves as the Director of Publications at the American Sephardi Federation.

Aryeh is the author of Progressive Minds, Conservative Politics: Leo Strauss’ Later Writings on Maimonides (SUNY 2013). He has published numerous academic and journalistic articles, essays and translations in both English and Hebrew in  Moment Magazine, The Tel Aviv Review of Books, Mosaic, The Weekly Standard, Jewish Ideas Daily, The Jewish Review of Books, Commentary, The Jerusalem Post, The Forward, The Diplomat, Ha’aretz, Makor Rishon and Akdamot. He lives in the southern town of Ofaqim, where he serves on the Steering Committee of the Municipal Archive and Museum. 

Yaakov Kirschen

Chairman of the Board & Advisor

Yaakov Kirschen is SIGNAL Group’s Chairman of the Board, a political analyst and cartoonist.

He is the founder of the long running Dry Bones political cartoon series that was syndicated in scores of publications until it moved on-line. In late 2009 he started strategizing for SIGNAL Group and was one of the first policy speakers for SIGNAL Group in China.

In 2010, Yale published Kirschen’s ground-breaking working paper entitled “Memetics and the Viral Spread of Antisemitism through “Coded Images in Political Cartoons”. The paper identifies antisemitism as a behavioral virus, isolates its three viral strains, and reveals its use by totalitarian movements in their attempts to conquer the West.