By Julie A. Sergel
With the demise of the twin towers on September 11, 2001, few could find any good. However, out of this tragedy, Fuel for Truth was organized with the intention of mobilizing young men and women to learn and spread the truth and in doing so to combat anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiments.
Fuel for Truth was born with the function of igniting the plus or minus twenty-something generation to digest and readily assimilate the facts--and discern the fictitious. "It's a powerful thing to be lied to, [and it's also] powerful to know the truth," offered Joe Richards, Executive Director of the Fuel for Truth organization, reverting to a favored quote: "The truth is what it is, bend to its power or live a lie."
The group seeks to reach out to the secular Jew and non-Jew alike, summoning support for Israel and dispelling the swirl of biased media reports. Facts to dispute disinformation leaked to spur anti-Semitism are laid bare.
Data gathered by the organization comes from history itself and key information dispensers such as The Israel Project, Professor Mitchell Bard, The David Project, Dr. Frank Luntz, and more. "Truth is factual data [recorded] in history and easily accessible to people," said Richards, "We don't re-create facts."
The truth that's being prescribed has most to do with Israel, the Jewish ancestral homeland and key symbol for democracy in the Middle East--one that, Richards shared, incites Radical Islam. "It's a war against ideology (and the West)," explained the Executive Director, "with a want for everyone under the rule of Islam, and Israel being the first country in their way." Suggestion of a shared partnership between the two countries (U.S. and Israel) is seen as key in combating terrorism, especially in regards to U.S. independence and democracy, likened by Israel.
When September 11th occurred, it woke many people up-including Fuel for Truth's organizers. In fact, the key to igniting just the right spark into young adult minds comes from an intimate knowledge of knowing first hand, a more lackadaisical state. When a close friend lost his life on that day, the idea was born, to get the facts behind what was really going on. The tumultuous backdrop of activity taking place in Israel over the past few years has just as equally imposed demand for response, despite a lack of specific ties to the Jewish community.
The Hebrew word for Truth is Emet and its definition swallows all of life-leaving nothing exempt-tracking beginning, middle, and end of all things. Fuel For Truth specifically targets a "middle" portion of society (18-34 year olds) that would typically fall through the cracks and not get the proper exposure to truth. Many times this group is subject to the opinions of individual college professors and university viewpoints, deficient of basic facts regarding Israel and the Middle East at large. FFT accepts the charge, and as Richards puts it, "picks up the pieces where others leave off-big pieces! Everyone is not being reached!" Richards went on to stress the importance of harnessing unaffiliated Jews, along with the non-Jewish population, to a stronger, more proactive stance for Israel.
Emet is also about doing, not being, so in order to turn this message into action, Fuel for Truth offers "social educational events" at college campuses and even nightclubs. Again, Richards explains: "Every event has an educational component, with just the right amount of truth. [We offer] small doses of information [to generate 'aha!' moments] so they'll say, 'I didn't know that' [and it creates a want to know more.] From there, specific individuals are trained to infuse others.
A ten-week Boot Camp undergirds the entire movement. Twice annually, FFT offers an intensive training program where 20 select volunteers undergo an equipping that provides them with a foundation to keep the organization virile and growing. Those chosen are taught the history of Israel, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, and are trained to run various aspects of the operation-Fundraising, Public Relations, Web Management, Human Resources, Event Production, etc. Top historians, Special Forces officers and soldiers, famous political pollsters and business people are called on to aid the process. Dr. Mitchell Bard, Michael Shannon, and Dr. Frank Luntz are examples of those who've poured into the group. This year's boot camp generated the most response yet-62 candidates for the 20 available spots. Plans to replicate the NYC operation in Los Angeles are the in the works.
The barest mandate the Fuel for Truth operation strives for is two-fold: increase public opinion and awareness that extends to elected officials backing Israel, along with strengthening Jewish identity and connection to its ancestral homeland.
The Internet spills over with options for those who'd like to jump on board, but find themselves outside of the NY Metropolitan area. Volunteers are welcomed, and most definitely utilized. Because a good portion of the work involves writing, those as far away as Israel and South Africa have been able to contribute to the work at hand. Opening Fuel For Truth chapters beyond NYC and LA are also viable options on the forefront. So, no matter what your particular talents or skills, FFT can find place for them. (Contact:[email protected])
As for now, more events are planned for this fall/early winter, so keep an ear to the ground. Beyond that, check out the Fuel for Truth website (www.FuelforTruth.org) and read up on the Top Ten Facts "you need to know."