Clifton Park man back home after experiencing start of war in Israel

CLIFTON PARK – Peter Rosenfeld and his wife were visiting their son in Jerusalem on Oct. 7, making memories with their 16 grandchildren. It was early in the morning when bombs began exploding and air raid sirens began blaring all around.

“(My grandchildren) were nervous, concerned, and did not know what was going on,” Rosenfeld recalled.

Even though the hub of violence was near Gaza, roughly 50 miles away, armed soldiers were blanketing Jerusalem neighborhoods, where the usually busy streets quickly emptied, and residents realized the country was embroiled in war.

“Everybody in Israel knows somebody who was called up, is in the Army, or second or third degree knows someone who was kidnapped or killed,” Rosenfeld said. “This is their life and Israel will remember this for a very, very, very long time.”

Ten days after the onset of war, Rosenfeld and his wife were finally able to catch a flight back home to the United States, where he has noticed a disturbing phenomenon.

“The shock has worn off here a little bit,” he suggested. “In Israel, the shock is getting worse.”

That’s why Rosenfeld intends to remind neighbors and friends constantly that 1,300 innocent people are dead simply because they were Jewish. He strongly believes there needs to be accountability, lest people forget the Holocaust.

“Hamas cannot be allowed to exist,” he said.

Beyond that, Rosenfeld said the ever-growing scourge of antisemitism also needs to be addressed.

“This country is absolutely not immune to the expansion of antisemitism,” he said. “I believe it starts at the dinner table when a child is 5 and 6 and 7 and the parents are talking, and when they are expressing their views, the children are listening, and they’re taking it back to school.”

So then, when and where will the multi-millennial hatred end?

“My crystal ball says 100 years from today, your grandson and my grandson will be sitting in the same spot having the same discussion, unfortunately,” he said.

Now is not the time for Israelis to be discussing intelligence community failures or their displeasure with the government, Rosenfeld said. That, he said, will come after the fighting ends and the hostages are brought home.