Each week Jspace brings you an in-depth look at a Jewish organization from around the world.
Since September 11, Fuel For Truth has worked tirelessly to educate secular Jews about Israel and the Middle East.
Recently Jspace met with Joseph Richards, chairman and founder of Fuel For Truth, to talk about the organization and learn more about its 10 week “Boot Camp” Training Program.
Why and how was your organization founded?
FFT was founded the day after September 11, 2001. A group of young, secular Jews from New York City decided to channel their frustration by responding to the new threat at home, as well as the year-long streak of terror in Israel.
Working with world-renowned political pollster and communication strategist Dr. Frank Luntz, Fuel For Truth commissioned a study that came to an alarming conclusion: many young Americans are unaware of the misinformation about Israel and the war on terror being spread by terrorist organizations and the enemies of Israel and the U.S., as well as the millions of dollars they spend each year in coordinated public relations campaigns.
To address this urgent problem, Fuel For Truth passionately dedicated themselves, their financial resources and their time to identifying and eradicating the causes of anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and in turn, anti-Americanism by learning factual, historical information and the methods to share them in social settings; both online and in person.
How has it evolved over time?
Today, there is greater access to information than ever before. But when a recent Pew study found that 30 percent of Americans receive their news from Facebook, is the truth being lost in the noise?
Never before has there been more outspoken public opposition to the basic principles and tenants of the Jewish state than there is today. Never before has hostility towards Israel been so well organized and executed. Never before have opponents of Israel been more outspoken than its supporters.
What’s worse is a shocking level of ignorance on behalf of young Jewish-American adults: some have trouble finding Israel on a map and many more don’t know even the most basic details of its democracy. How can the next generation of Jews explain to their friends, roommates and co-workers about what’s going on in the Middle East today if they lack even a basic understanding of the facts?
If the next generation of Jews is going to care about Israel, they need to understand the facts and they need the skills to advocate effectively on Israel’s behalf. Future lawmakers, business leaders, editors and government officials are forming their opinions of Israel now. If current trends are not averted, America’s core commitment to, and alliance with the Jewish state might not survive another generation. Silence is not an option.
FFT is the only organization that is run by the next generation of Jewish leaders for the next generation of Jewish leaders. It’s a 21st century effort to a 21st century challenge
What is the main focus today?
FFT’s main focus are the two flagship programs that highlight our focus and success:
1. Our 10-week Membership “Boot Camp” Program and
2. Our Campus Program
Boot Camp fuels our entire organization. It’s an intensive 10-week training program held once a week, where we carefully select a limited group of volunteers and train them on the history of Israel, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, current events, and practical skills that will allow them to assume leadership positions in Fuel For Truth.
Training sessions are led by Middle East experts, historians, business people, Special Forces soldiers, and famous political pollsters. It’s an elite program that offers very limited spots to qualified applicants.
Our Campus Program sends volunteers back to their universities to help inform and educate students about the issues relating to FFT’s cause. We help organize and promote a social/educational event that attracts young adults, including hard-to-reach college students.
Our methods are successful because we are seen as peers rather than an authority figure. We present the information in a style and language young Americans can understand, relate to and easily share.
How does this work line up with Jewish values?
Our work bringing the truth to light, first to our own people and then to the rest of the world, is the basic tenet of Judaism in the form of Tikkun Olam. In doing so, we are bringing together the incredible diversity of the Jewish people every day and learning about our rich ancestry.
As the next generation of Jews continue to be less involved with Israel and Judaism, we realize today the urgency of our mission. If they are going to care about Israel, first they need to understand why they should care about being Jews. They also need to understand the common enemy Israel and the United States are fighting. They need to have the skills necessary to correct the bullying professor, or their ignorant roommate, or biased media coverage their co-workers are reading in the NY times.
The messenger is as important as the message and Fuel For Truth will seek, create and train thousands of messengers to share the truth about our rich history and culture to secure our future for generations to come.
.ORG Connection: FFT works mostly on college campuses providing college students with correct facts and information to defend and discuss Israel.