ReTold: Susan Chusyd's Story
When I moved from Chicago to Washington, DC, two years ago, I knew no one here. Thankfully, a friend told me about a new Israel advocacy program that was just starting up, and that she thought I’d be interested in joining. So I applied, put on my “Sunday best” during the interview, and was accepted into Fuel For Truth's first Boot Camp class outside of New York City. I expected that I would meet some new people, maybe network a bit (this is DC after all...), and maybe learn some new things about Israel. What I didn’t expect was for FFT to change my life.
I could tell you how the framework of the program changed my approach to advocacy to a softer, more effective technique. Or I could tell you about the amazing speakers I’ve been lucky enough to meet, such as former US Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg or author Joshua Muravchik from the Institute of World Politics. But both those things, while at the core of the curriculum, are not what changed my world. For me, the most effective and important part of FFT is the ability to bring people together.
I have met my best friends through FFT-DC and it helped me find a community of people who spend their time trying to effect change in their world. These people have a deep love for Israel, and have helped grow what was once a start-up chapter into one of the most recognized pro-Israel groups in our city. Furthermore, being in the capital brings unique opportunities when it comes to growing a bi-partisan pro-Israel community. During the 2016 Presidential Election, we had boot campers and alumni working on both sides of the aisle during one of the most divisive campaigns in recent memory, yet they were able to speak to each other with respect and did not allow the hyper-polarization to negatively impact their friendships. This is a testament to the strength of the program and the relationships it creates.
The FFT-DC community is filled with people who are going to be tomorrow's political decision-makers. We have people who work for embassies, leading think-tanks, governmental organizations, as well as on Capitol Hill. Through our efforts, these people have learned to view Israel and the conflict in a new light, shaping the next generation of leaders and hopefully policy. I believe the key philosophy of FFT is encapsulated by Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” It is that philosophy that keeps people coming back to Boot Camp long after they've graduated, stay involved, and help us push forward to make a difference.
FFT helped me to hone my skills and changed my life’s direction. I am so excited and honored that I get to try to help do the same for each new boot camper in my capacity as the Deputy Director of FFT-DC.