"The state will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter," ran the saying popularized by Chaim Weizmann and attributed to him by Ha'aretz newspaper on December 15, 1947, soon after the UN decision to partition Palestine.
As war between the Arabs and the Jews approached in Palestine in 1948, the Poet Nathan Alterman put into words the tragic understanding of the sacrifices that everyone understood would have to be made for independence. These sacrifices were made by relatively few - mostly the young people who would defend Israel. The poem, the Silver Platter, appeared in Natan Alterman's column, "The seventh column" in Davar newspaper of December 19, 1947.
The introduction above is copyright 2008 by Ami Isseroff. The material below is reproduced under the doctrine of fair use for educational purposes.
The Silver Platter
And the land grows still, the red eye of the sky slowly dimming over smoking frontiers
As the nation arises, Torn at heart but breathing, To receive its miracle, the only miracle
As the ceremony draws near, it will rise, standing erect in the moonlight in terror and joy
When across from it will step out a youth and a lass and slowly march toward the nation
Dressed in battle gear, dirty, Shoes heavy with grime, they ascend the path quietly
To change garb, to wipe their brow
They have not yet found time. Still bone weary from days and from nights in the field
Full of endless fatigue and unrested,
Yet the dew of their youth. Is still seen on their head
Thus they stand at attention, giving no sign of life or death
Then a nation in tears and amazement
will ask: "Who are you?"
And they will answer quietly, "We Are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given."
Thus they will say and fall back in shadows
And the rest will be told In the chronicles of Israel