The Silver Platter

with intro by Oren Yagil

On November 29th, 1947, the United Nations held its famous vote to create the state of Israel.

Several days after this historic vote, Chaim Weizmann, who a few months later became Israel’s first President, said in a speech, “The State of Israel will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter.” The meaning behind this was to warn and prepare the Jews living in Palestine (under the British Mandate at the time) that the vote at the UN will not make things easy in founding our homeland. In other words, there will be war and we must all be ready to do our part.

The poet Nathan Alterman, already an influential reporter and poet, took those words to heart, and put to paper what he felt they mean.

This is how the Silver Platter was written.  It is a poem read every year at Yom Hazikaron in Israel.The poem explains that the “Silver Platter” is the young men and women who fought and died to defend the very young country, and have been fighting and sacrificing their lives ever since, through to today and into the foreseeable future.

The Silver Platter

The Earth grows still.

The lurid sky slowly pales over smoking borders.

Heartsick, but still living, a people stand by

To greet the uniqueness of the miracle.

Readied, they wait beneath the moon,

Wrapped in awesome joy, before the light.

-- Then, soon,

A girl and boy step forward,

And slowly walk before the waiting nation;

In work garb and heavy-shod they climb in stillness.

Wearing yet the dress of battle, the grime

Of aching day and fire-filled night

Unwashed, weary unto death, not knowing rest,

But wearing youth like dewdrops in their hair.

-- Silently the two approach and stand.

Are they of the quick or of the dead?

Through wondering tears, the people stare.

“Who are you, the silent two?”

And they reply: “We are the silver platter

Upon which the Jewish State was served to you.”

And speaking, fall in shadow at the nation’s feet.

Let the rest in Israel’s chronicles be told.