Fifty Years, But Nothing Has Changed

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Kassam Qassam
16 Jan 2008

Holy and Secular – The day will come when “The Book of Sderot” will be written. Many good people will appear in the book. It will tell about inhabitants of Sdeirot who survived long and terrible years when the Kassam rockets fell. It will tell about Hesder yeshiva students who came from far away to show support for the city. It will mention the members of the Torah “Garin” who dedicated their lives to the community, without any special rewards or appreciation. In letters of gold, other people and institutions that contributed to the city in its most difficult hours will be recorded, people with whom I am not familiar.

The book will also mention the bad side of quite a few people. People who were indifferent. These are the type of people that Natan Alterman wrote about in his poem, “The Importance of Harassment.” This poem was written fifty-three years ago, at a time when the border towns in the north of the country were bombarded without a stop. At the time, the journalists who lived in the peace and quiet of Tel Aviv wrote that “this harassment is not serious,” and that political wisdom insists that it should be ignored. Evidently the phrase “Kassam – Shmassam” was not invented by our current President.

* * * * * *

Let’s assume that a single Arab cannon,

A small insignificant cannon, would fire now and then,

A single shot, only once each week,

Aiming at the area of the newspaper offices.


Imagine a meeting of the newspaper editors,

Sitting down by chance, in the afternoon,

And one of them asks, “How are things by you?”

And his reply is, “Unimportant harassment.”


“Routine harassment, nothing important.

Now and then, in the middle of our work,

One meager mortar shell falls

In the area of the editorial room.”


And another one says: “In our area too

There is no room for complaint, only once every other week

A small bazooka is fired at us

Straight through the windows and the doors.”


And a third one says: “It will be bad, my colleagues,

If we react to such incidents.

Yesterday the ceiling was almost destroyed,

But so what?”


So the editors talked, and my heart… said to me silently,

See, I am almost convinced…


But a still voice of doubt asked, Can this be?

Wouldn’t the line of thinking be shaken a bit,

If journalists really sat someplace

Where they “only” were struck with one shell a week…

Only one shell a week, with additional sniping

Into the meeting rooms a few times a day.


Perhaps then they would loudly demand

To remove every firing station in range no matter what…

Perhaps they would demand this without

Hesitating… Who can tell the way of the spirit?


The main thing sometimes (we have felt this for a long time)

Is not “Yes” or “No” to “activism”

The main thing is that a short distance away from the border

It is easy to judge matters from a position of “writing”

It may be good to have a discussion, clear and comprehensive,

But perhaps the opinion of the commentator depends

On the place from which he is looking.

* * * * * *

Will we be counted among the indifferent ones? I hope not.

Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute ( Translated from the Hebrew by Moshe Goldberg. To subscribe to receive the complete version of Shabbat BeShabbato please write to

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.