By TOVAH LAZAROFF
US president meets 13-year-old Osher Twito, who lost a leg in a rocket attack 5 years ago, this time as president.An Israeli policewoman looks at the damage after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza lan
An Israeli policewoman looks at the damage after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza lan Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Osher Twito, 13, who lost his leg in a Kassam rocket attack five years ago, met US President Barack Obama on Thursday in Jerusalem for the second time.
Four months after his injury in 2008, he was taken from the hospital, so he could meet Obama, who was then visiting Israel as part of his first run for office.
Obama invited Twito to the Jerusalem International Convention Center and, during his major address there, told the thousands of people in the audience that the boy had become a symbol for him of the dangers that face Israel.
“When I consider Israel’s security, I think about children like Osher Twito, who I met in Sderot – children the same age as my own daughters who went to bed at night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live,” Obama said.
The meeting was organized by One Family Fund, which works with terror victims and their families. Through their efforts, seven terror victims were at the speech. But only Twito and his mother personally spoke with Obama.After the speech, he spent a few moments talking privately with Osher and his mother Iris.
Rebecca Fuhrman of One Family Fund, herself a terror victim, was also with them as a translator.
“Iris immediately gave Obama a hug and thanked him for coming to Israel.
Obama thanked her and told her how much her story had inspired him for the last five years since he met them,” said Fuhrman.
“It was like old friends meeting each other.”
It was a private meeting away from the cameras, Fuhrman said, explaining that neither Twito nor his mother wanted to speak with reporters.
But Iris did tell One Family Fund after the meeting that “it was emotional for us and my husband who went through surgery last night and could not come. He called me in tears when he heard him say Osher’s name in the speech.”
“I hugged the president and told him that he gives us hope,” Iris added.
Fuhrman, who was injured in a March 23, 2011, bombing right outside the convention center, said she too was inspired by Obama, particularly given her history with that part of the city.
“I am a survivor,” said Fuhrman, who is originally from Pittsburgh.
On that day, she was on her way home from work, and luckily missed her bus, which was much closer to the blast.
Six months later, she started working for One Family Fund as a way of helping terror victims who lacked that same positive support system she received from her family and friend.
Obama and his office has shown so much understanding and have built a positive relationship with victims of terror in Israel, she said, adding that she was impressed by how personable Obama was.
“I always knew he was an unbelievably charismatic person. But when he walked into the room and it was like seeing an old friend. He was so very personable that his personality really showed through,” she said.
“It was really inspiring to come back to a place that has such a negative memory and to be there for something so overwhelmingly positive.”