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Friday, August 01, 2003

America 9/11 -- Israel 24/7

Israeli Terror Victims tour the U.S.
Yariv Shabo, 18, also tries to draw lessons from the death of his mother and three brothers, killed when Palestinian snipers shot them in their home in the West Bank Israeli town of Itamar, then set the house ablaze.

Shabo was with friends on his street when he heard the shooting and took cover at a neighbor´s house.

In an instant, his family shrank from nine members to five, says Shabo, who covers his head with a large, colorful knit kipah.

In broken English, he explains his loss — "no mother food, no little brother to play with."

One brother — who survived the shooting but lost a leg to a bullet — is afraid to sleep alone. Shabo and his father stay with him at night.

Shabo, who has moved to Kedumim, another West Bank Israeli town, says, "You have to keep going."

Otherwise the Arabs will win, explains Shabo, a gentle spirit who will leave yeshiva to join the Israeli army in March.

The attack has only heightened Shabo´s attachment to Israel.

"We´re supposed to hold on very hard," he says, demonstrating with a fist what he can´t fully express in words.

The experience also has heightened his sense of Jewish peoplehood.

"All of the Jews are one big family," he says. "I meet Jews. I see the love they give us, everything. They want to hug us. They want to help as they can."

Within the group of Israeli terror victims, there is no secular-religious divide, Shabo says, giving a high-five to Turgman — who does not wear a yarmulke — and saying that the two have become good friends.

Ultimately, Shabo believes there is a divine reason for his survival: Maybe, he says, it is "to help Am Yisrael," the People of Israel.
Rachel Pomerance reports for JTA: Global News Service of the Jewish People.