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An oleh’s reflection on October 7

“Daddy, I’m going to die! I don’t want to die!”

My five-year-old daughter is screaming this over and over while we are in our house’s bomb shelter. Outside, there was a boom that shook the whole apartment. It was like nothing I have ever experienced. I learned afterward that it was a Hamas missile that landed across the street from us.

This was late on October 7th.

Although we’ve been under missile attack all day, it didn’t seem to dawn on me until I heard that big boom. I’m not just observing some abstract war. These missiles are designed to kill me, my family, and my five-year-old who is crying her eyes out.

Our story is not by any means unique, nor is it nearly the most tragic. It is the story of Israelis, all of us. I say us. Although on October 6th, I felt as if I understood Israelis, it was October 7th that made me truly feel Israeli.

I know I will always be “the American.” And that’s fine; America is the land of cool, of hamburgers and rock and roll. But to be Israeli is to know that people want to kill you and your family and to respond with defiant resilience.

I have nothing more to add to this post. I just wanted to get it out. Am Yisrael Chai.

About the Author
JJ Ben-Joseph is an oleh hadash, the founder and CEO of TensorSpace, a stealth-mode AI/ML startup, and Entrepreneur-In-Residence at AION Labs. JJ worked at the strategic venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, where he helped biosecurity and AI startups succeed with US government customers. He was also a technical contributor on drug discovery and pandemic response technologies that used AI. He's a fellow emeritus at the American Jewish Committee, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and the Foresight Institute.