ReFuel - August 1, 2017 - ReTold

ReTold: Shimrit Adika's Story

shimrit1.pngThey say that when you put three Jews together, you get four opinions. Now imagine seven million Jews in one place. As an Israeli, having a view on Middle East conflict is pretty much a given; I was no different. I knew what I thought, knew where I stood, and knew I was right. However, after coming to New York, I realized I needed to know a whole lot more.

No matter where you are in the world, being an Israeli doesn’t quite leave you. You always get asked about the recent flare-ups, the chances of peace, or “why the whole thing even started” and “why it can’t be solved already.” Those questions didn’t scare me; having lived through the conflict, my answers were detailed and well-crafted. Only after moving abroad and discussing the issue with non-Israelis did I encounter a new question: Does Israel have a right to exist?

For many living in Israel, regardless of your political orientation, one thing is indisputable; Israel deserves to exist. As vehemently as the left and right argue their differences, they do so on the basis that Israel is here to stay, and that whatever policies are put in place, they must ensure its continuation as a sovereign nation. However, for many the debate starts at a more fundamental level and includes the idea of removing Israel from the list of nations. Needless to say, I was unpleasantly surprised and had to quickly adjust my approach to the topic, to include this new question.

This is where Fuel For Truth came in. Going into Boot Camp, I had my share of doubts. I was unsure what a red-blooded Israeli from Jerusalem like me could learn about how to advocate for my country. Nonetheless, I was determined to see it through. Before the 10 weeks ended, that determination paid off. FFT gave me the tools to take on difficult, and sometimes confrontational, conversations and be able to successfully advocate for Israel without getting into the typical screaming match we all know too well. The emphasis the program puts on knowing the history, providing that context during the conversation, and asking questions to keep people honest about the depth of their own knowledge, helped me tremendously. Moreover, there were plenty of opportunities to rehearse and practice different responses to common situations, which made the real thing much easier. An additional perk of the program were the guest speakers. Having the opportunity to meet with and listen to a wide array of experts, each a distinguished member of his or her community, was a catalyst for learning. Hearing firsthand experiences of people who proudly, actively, and daily advocate for Israel was a great inspiration for both myself and my classmates.

Looking back, FFT gave me much more than the ability to better articulate my point and develop my advocacy skills. Through this amazing organization, I made friends who became my second family, and made me feel welcome in my new city. Almost four years later, I continue to appreciate how much FFT contributed to my life, both for Israel advocacy and my ability to feel at home, 5,000 miles away from home.

 

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