Welcome to ReFuel, the monthly newsletter of ZOA's Fuel For Truth. Check your inbox on the first Tuesday (minus this special Wednesday edition) of each month to find out what's happening in the FFT universe. Let us know what you love/hate by reaching out to Arielle Holstein.
ReConnect: News, Events & Other Important Stuff
THE DIVERSITY THAT IS FFT
As the schism within American Jewry continues to grow we actually have some positive news to share with you...
Based on the previous 150 Boot Camp applicants for our four fall classes, we are happy (but not surprised) to report that FFT contains the political and religious diversity every inclusive Jewish organization dreams of! Boot Camp is an environment where young Jews and Zionists of all stripes can feel comfortable and confident to share their views and the results speak for themselves. Check it out!
FFT SPEAKER PROFILE: AMB. MARC GINSBERG
Every issue of ReFuel we highlight one of the numerous guest speakers we host during Boot Camp. These include prominent individuals with decades of experience in politics, foreign policy, religion, media, communication, and education.
QUICK BIO: Ambassador Marc Ginsberg has more than 30 years of international, commercial, legal and government affairs experience, and has held numerous positions focusing on foreign policy, defense, trade, and investment development throughout the Middle East.
CLAIM(S) TO FAME: Ambassador Ginsberg served as a legislative assistant to Sen. Edward Kennedy; special assistant to the secretary of state; deputy senior adviser to the president for Middle East policy; U.S. ambassador to Morocco (under President Clinton); and special U.S. coordinator for Mediterranean trade, investment and security affairs.
WHY WE LOVE THE SPEAKER: Ambassador Ginsberg has lived in the United States, Israel and throughout the Arab world. He had a front row seat during the Oslo Accords and spent years in Arab capitals working with its leaders. He has a unique understanding of Arab governments and their motivations concerning domestic and regional issues, as well as their relations with Israel.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND: As a Middle East affairs analyst, he has been featured in outlets including CNN, MSNBC, BBC and Al Arabiya, and his writings have been published by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy and the Huffington Post.
SAVE THE DATE: GIVING TUESDAY
#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this year’s #GivingTuesday will take place on November 27th and will kick off the giving season by inspiring people to collaborate and give back.
In the spirit of this day, please consider giving to FFT on November 27th. Our one-of-a-kind Israel advocacy Boot Camp program for young professionals has changed the lives of our ever-growing 700+ alumni in New York City, DC, Miami, and Boston by equipping them with the facts, skills and confidence to be vocal and effective advocates for Israel. With your support, our program will be able to reach new markets across the country and provide the empowerment and lasting impact young supporters of Israel desperately need today.
SEEKING VOLUNTEERS FOR A GREAT CAUSE
5:00 - 9:00 PM
ReCap: October 2018
GIVING BACK TO THOSE WHO GIVE SO MUCH
There's no amount of gratitude or offerings we could bestow upon our volunteer leadership to show our appreciation for all they do. So, we had to settle for tapas - delicious tapas. Coinciding with ZOA Gala weekend, we were fortunate to gather our leaders from New York, Miami and Boston (you were missed, DC) - many of whom were meeting face-to-face for the first time - for a wonderful evening of Spanish delicacies and cocktails. Some Zionism was discussed in between.
ZOA GALA: A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
ReTold: Jackie Shafer's Story
I’m a graphic designer and communications manager at the Zionist Organization of America. I get to do creative work while being close to the American-Israeli political scene and do whatever I can to help Israel.
We have an annual lobbying mission in D.C. every spring. The entire staff goes, as well as a couple hundred enthusiastic Zionist participants. First, there’s a lunch reception where pro-Israel politicians, certain ZOA staff, and other special guests deliver their speeches about everything that’s going on and what they’re going to do about it. I like this part; I like listening to people that are truly involved and hearing their insight and experiences.
After lunch comes the lobbying part. We are split into groups according to where we live, and we meet with our local representatives or their staff members to lobby for Israel.
ZOA prepares mission participants and staff by showing a five-minute video on the bus about what we’re there to lobby for and the points we should go over. I didn’t learn anything new from this video; I’m incredibly familiar with and interested in all the issues on our talking points sheet. However, I have no background in politics or business, and felt completely out of place on Capitol Hill. I forgot almost everything I learned in high school about how the government works, and was reluctant to speak to anyone out of fear that I would say something inaccurate and expose my political ignorance. There were lots of other Zionists at the mission who were fearlessly outspoken and probably aced AP U.S. History, so I was truthfully just planning on letting those people in my group do the talking.
When it was time, I walked around Capitol Hill with my map and itinerary and eventually arrived at my group’s meeting point. There was no in the waiting room so I figured I was late (I was) and that they had already started the meeting. However, the receptionist told me that no one had arrived yet. (I would like to point out to everyone reading this that I was in fact the first person to show up to something.)
“He’s ready whenever you are!” she told me. Seeing as I was the only one there, I informed the receptionist that we were not yet ready.
Five minutes, then ten minutes went by, and no one arrived. I finally called a colleague of mine who was in my group (you know who you are) and he said, “Oh, yeah I’m with the group. We couldn’t find the room so we just went to see a different rep.”
I’ve had many dreams in which I’m in a play and have a major role, but suddenly I walk onstage and realize I don’t know any of my lines. This moment felt like those dreams. I was the only one present in this group to lobby on behalf of the Zionists. What?! I’ve never lobbied before with a group, how am I supposed do this on my own?
I told the receptionist the group is actually just me and I guess I’ll go in now. I shook hands with my rep’s staffer, and we sat down in an elaborate office that reminded me of Veep. The massive room was silent with anticipation, and then he asked me to begin.
I looked down at my sheet of talking points and repeated what I saw in the 5-minute prep video that morning. After about a minute, I couldn’t help but notice that his eyes were glazed over. Every word came out of my mouth sounding cringe-worthily unnatural and I didn’t feel genuine. I don’t like when people talk to me in that way, so I cut myself off and came clean.
“Look, I love Israel but I’ve never lobbied before and the rest of my group never showed up. What am I supposed to do here?”
He said, “Let’s just have a conversation. Why are you here today?”
Screw the talking points. If I get to have a one-on-one conversation with this guy, I’m going to pick his brain and no one’s going to stop me.
“You probably get to hear about this issue from a lot of activists both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel.”
“I already know what I want. What do the pro-Palestinian activists tell you they want?”
He told me they want freedom for the Palestinian people. I said, “Totally, that’s what I want too.” I told him that I’ve been personally researching this conflict for years and listening to every point of view I can, and I have some ideas. I felt myself breathing again as I started share with him all the things standing in the way of Palestinian freedom.
For the next 50 minutes, I fell into the patterns we practiced at FFT. I wasn’t sitting there reading a list of policies I wanted him to vote for, I was discussing with him a deep-rooted problem that’s affecting human beings, and what the best approach would be to alleviate their suffering.
After a while, the conversation came to a natural end. I figured I hadn’t lobbied, whatever that actually is, but I learned some stuff and had a really honest discussion with someone who can influence policies. I looked at the talking-points sheet still in my hands and said, “Actually, do you want to keep this? I don’t want the paper but it’s a really good outline of the things I just told you.”
We stood up, shook hands, and he said to me, “You did it. This is lobbying.”
ReLearn: Advocacy Tips & Resources
Never assume the intentions of someone with whom you are speaking. Intentions are invisible and often disconnected from impact. Instead of asking yourself, "How can he think that and be so irrational?" Ask yourself, "I wonder what information she has that I lack. How might they see the world such that their view makes sense?"
Ron's Book Selection
The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership
by Yehuda Avner
The Prime Ministers is the first and only insider account of Israeli politics from the founding of the Jewish State to the near-present day.
It reveals stunning details of life-and-death decision-making, top-secret military operations and high level peace negotiations. The Prime Ministers brings readers into the orbits of world figures, including Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Written in a captivating literary style by a political adviser, speechwriter, and diplomat, The Prime Ministers is an enthralling political memoir, and a precisely crafted prism through which to view current Middle East affairs. The Prime Ministers is the basis of a major documentary produced by Moriah Films, the Academy Award-winning film division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The Forgotten Refugees
What to Watch
In 1945 there were one million Jews living in the Middle East and North Africa.
For over two millennia they lived under varying rulers as part of the diverse fabric of peoples native to the region. Yet, in 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel, Jewish life in other countries in the region dramatically began to disappear. Anti-Jewish riots in reaction to the failure of the attempts of Arab armies to eliminate the infant state of Israel, as well as the rise of post-colonial pan-Arabist movements set off a massive wave of Jewish immigration from the region. From Casablanca to Baghdad, Jews abandoned their ancestral homelands often leaving behind their homes, communities and livelihoods suddenly becoming refugees. For decades, many Jews who fled their native homelands never shared their experiences of being forced into exile but in The Forgotten Refugees for the first time, stories of several Jewish Refugees are told.
RePost: Articles Published by FFT Members
by Yoni Michanie, Boston Boot Camp graduate & class instructor - October 30, 2018
"Both terror attacks on Jewish civilians in Israel and domestic anti-Semitic rampages like the one we witnessed in Pittsburgh are unacceptable, and only the most naïve person would believe that anyone who supports notorious Jew-haters could mean any of their sympathetic words about Pittsburgh."
by Michael Yadov, NYC Boot Camp graduate & class instructor - October 31, 2018
"Many American Jews appear to lack a local perspective when assessing American policy with regard to Israel, and uniformly identify with their party’s policies as best for American-Israeli relations. In doing so, American Jews tend to discount the Israeli perspective and do not fully appreciate Israeli democracy."
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