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I Take Full Responsibility

I never doubted my decision to live in Israel.
[additional-authors]
February 7, 2024
Released hostage, Agam Goldstein- Almog (L) hugs a community member during a Kfar Aza community event on the fourth night of Hanukkah on December 10, 2023 in Shefayim, Israel. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

“What have I done?” 

An inner primal scream erupted when I heard that kibbutzim and moshavim had been overrun by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Although I knew that my children and grandchildren were safe, I involuntarily questioned my Aliyah to Israel 53 years and two days earlier.

Had it been all for nothing? My life wasted? 

I quickly shut down the panic that was choking me, but the disturbing question lingered. I remembered the times I joined my husband, who years ago taught American students in Israel on education programs. While visiting a Golan Heights observation point, these high school students learned that before the 1967 Six-Day War, Israelis living in the settlements visible below them had been the target of artillery and sniper fire.  

“Did the parents behave responsibly by raising their children on a border under fire?” my husband asked them. 

Reactions varied, but I knew this was a discussion for non-Israelis. Not only did no one in Israel question the need for border communities, but those who lived there were praised for being our first line of defense. 

Oct. 7 proved how crucial those settlements are. Without them, thousands of terrorists would have quickly reached large population centers, murdering thousands before being tracked down and eliminated. Although I knew this, for a fraction of a second I’d been assailed by guilt. 

I shared this unexpected reaction with several of my veteran “new immigrant” friends and discovered I wasn’t alone. Even though none of them had ever lived on borders, they still endured the dangers of living in Israel. Some families begged them to leave Israel. No one did. We had all made the informed choice to live here. We had planted ourselves in Israel’s rich soil and our roots strengthened and reached into all aspects of life in all areas of the country.

I chose to join a new moshav on the border with Jordan several months after my Aliyah in 1970. I was 21, single, eager to be a pioneer working the land and defending the country.  I met my first husband on the moshav and we had two daughters who, as adults, chose to make their homes on the moshav, as did over 50 other children of the founding generation.  My grandchildren are now among the 150 children of the third generation, some of whom are already adults. 

I accept full responsibility for my choices and where my children and grandchildren are today, border and all.

I never doubted my decision to live in Israel—not even when, with my Uzi submachine gun in hand, I would stand on the toilet so I could see out the window that faced the border when there was a suspected terrorist infiltration.

The truth is, I never doubted my decision to live in Israel – not even when, with my Uzi submachine gun in hand, I would stand on the toilet so I could see out the window that faced the border when there was a suspected terrorist infiltration. The men ran to their positions, leaving the wives, all armed with Uzis, at home to protect the children. We knew how to defend ourselves if anyone got through. I think. 

I never doubted my decision to live in Israel — not during the Yom Kippur War, not during the First Intifada, when my daughters traveled through dangerous areas to visit their father after our divorce, or during the first Gulf War when Scud missiles exploded around us, or during the Second Intifada, when bombs exploded on buses, in restaurants and intersections.

So why on Oct. 7 was I stricken by that bolt of “What have I done?” 

I can only surmise that it came out of a gut fear for Israel’s existence. This was not another horrendous terror attack. These were ruthless terrorists whose purpose in life was not to defeat an enemy, but to annihilate it while committing unimaginable atrocities. 

The panic that had shot through me was much more than the fear that I had made a mistake. I know that now. It was about the fear of loss. Loss of everything I had created, nurtured, and dedicated my adult life to: Family, Israel and the little moshav that had blossomed into the luscious, successful community I had dreamed of when I chose Israel.

I will not let this be about loss. 

Yes, we have lost thousands and counting, but we will not lose the war. We are not lost. We are home and here to stay. We will rebuild. Everything.


Galia Miller Sprung moved to Israel from Southern California in 1970 to become a pioneer farmer and today she is a writer and editor. 

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