Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

In The Belly of Hate

By Staff Reporter

The following is the story about a unique new book Storm of Terror: A Hebron Mother's Diary. Perhaps this is the first book, an account about heroic life, a outcry from the West Bank. Ivan R. Dee, publisher (Chicago, 2002) published this unique testimony of family life under siege, in the midst of bullets and bombs.

What would it be like to live with terrorism day in and day out? To bury loved ones week in and week out? What would it be like to be an ex-American, raising five children in Hebron, miles from the West Bank of Israel? Living in the midst of violence, June Leavitt wrote her disturbingly candid diary, Storm of Terror: A Hebron Mother's Diary. For the past two years she has seen and lived through unimaginable, and unceasing, terror. She has had to raise a family of witnesses - to gunnings, suicide bombers, failed peace processes, political blunders, and the escalation of Arab terrorism. Although Ms. Leavitt tries to keep herself sane in "a gyre of internal doubts and external turbulence," this diary cannot gloss over the reality it describes.

Storm of Terror begins with Rosh Hashanah in September 2000, the Jewish New Year, when Stage II of the Intifada broke out in Israel. Ms. Leavitt writes firsthand of the tragic events of the ensuing eighteen months, when the Palestinians opened up the arsenals of weapons that had been given them as part of the American-sponsored peace process, and began to use them against Israelis. Hundreds of Israeli mothers, fathers, and children were gunned down on the roads of Israel. Israeli soldiers, waiting for rides, were blown up by suicide bombers; buses filled with civilians went up in rockets of fire, leaving chars and cinders of tragedy. Ms. Leavitt and her family knew many of the victims. Her daughter was drafted into the army as a combat soldier in Hebron just as the Arab uprising began.

June Leavitt was one of two children brought up in a well-off New York Jewish family. She writes of her brother and herself, "One child became a prominent real estate lawyer. For his weekend pleasure he bought a small estate far out on Long Island and for the other days of the week maintained an elegant bachelor apartment in the most fashionable district of Manhattan. The other became a settler in the West Bank of Israel. For years, to the disgrace and fear of her family, she has lived in the violence surrounding Kiriat Arba, a settlement near Hebron, with her husband and five children. No one can believe that this brother and sister came from the same mother and father. As children, raised in a wealthy neighborhood on Long Island, they romped in the same large house, ate the same steak, and went to the same posh summer camps." With a keen sense of the political blunders that, parading under the banner of "Peace Accords," caused the escalation of Arab terrorism and national trauma; with stirring references to biblical stories where the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict may lie, Ms. Leavitt has written a poignant and powerful narrative.

June Leavitt was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. She was graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1972, became a religious Jew in 1977, and two years later emigrated to Israel with her husband and two-year-old son. She has raised him and four other children there. Living in the eye of the storm in Kiriat Arba, Hebron, for the past twenty years, she teaches English at a local school and writes. Ms. Leavitt's books have been published in English (Flight to Seven Swan Bay), French (Vivre a Hebron), German (Im Labyrinth des Terrors), and Hebrew (Cochav Nophel).

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