Golda Meir

Golda Meir

Overview
Golda Meir was a teacher, kibbutznik and politician who became the fourth Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 of the State of Israel.

Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 on March 17, 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister. Israel's first and the world's third woman to hold such an office, she was described as the "Iron Lady
Iron Lady
Iron Lady is a nickname that has frequently been used to describe female heads of government around the world. The term describes a "strong willed" woman...

" of Israeli politics
Politics of Israel
The Israeli system of government is based on parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of government and leader of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Knesset. The Judiciary is independent of the executive...

 years before the epithet became associated with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

.
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Quotations

My delegation cannot refrain from speaking on this question — we who have such an intimate knowledge of boxcars and of deportations to unknown destinations that we cannot be silent.

On Soviet actions in Hungary to the UN General Assembly (1956-11-21)

Any one who speaks in favor of bringing the Arab refugees back must also say how he expects to take the responsibility for it, if he is interested in the state of Israel. It is better that things are stated clearly and plainly: We shall not let this happen.

Speech to the Knesset|Knesset, reported in Ner (October 1961)

How can we return the held territories? There is nobody to return them to.

News reports (1969-03-08)

I have faced difficult problems in the past but nothing like the one I'm faced with now in leading the country.

Speech when elected as the first female prime minister of Israel (1969)

We don’t thrive on military acts. We do them because we have to, and thank God we are efficient.

Vogue (July 1969)

We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon — no alternative.

LIFE magazine (3 October 1969)

The Egyptians could run to Egypt, the Syrians into Syria. The only place we could run was into the sea, and before we did that we might as well fight.

LIFE magazine (3 October 1969)

It is true we have won all our wars, but we have paid for them. We don’t want victories anymore.

LIFE magazine (3 October 1969)

[The Soviet government] is the most realistic regime in the world — no ideals.

Interview of 1969-10-07
Encyclopedia
Golda Meir was a teacher, kibbutznik and politician who became the fourth Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 of the State of Israel.

Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 on March 17, 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister. Israel's first and the world's third woman to hold such an office, she was described as the "Iron Lady
Iron Lady
Iron Lady is a nickname that has frequently been used to describe female heads of government around the world. The term describes a "strong willed" woman...

" of Israeli politics
Politics of Israel
The Israeli system of government is based on parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of government and leader of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Knesset. The Judiciary is independent of the executive...

 years before the epithet became associated with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

. Former prime minister David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

 used to call Meir "the best man in the government"; she was often portrayed as the "strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people."

In 1974, after the conclusion of the Yom Kippur War, Meir resigned as prime minister. She died in 1978.

Early life


Golda Mabovitch was born on May 3, 1898 in Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, in present day Ukraine, to Blume Neiditch and Moshe Mabovitch, a carpenter. Meir wrote in her autobiography that her earliest memories were of her father boarding up the front door in response to rumors of an imminent pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

. She had two sisters, Sheyna and Tzipke, as well as five other siblings who died in childhood. She was especially close to Sheyna.

Moshe Mabovitch left to find work in New York City in 1903. In his absence, the rest of the family moved to Pinsk
Pinsk
Pinsk , a town in Belarus, in the Polesia region, traversed by the river Pripyat, at the confluence of the Strumen and Pina rivers. The region was known as the Marsh of Pinsk. It is a fertile agricultural center. It lies south-west of Minsk. The population is about 130,000...

 to join her mother's family. In 1905, Moshe moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 in search of higher-paying work and found employment in the workshops of the local railroad yard. The following year, he had saved up enough money to bring his family to the United States.
Blume ran a grocery store on Milwaukee's north side, where by age eight Golda had been put in charge of watching the store when her mother went to the market for supplies. Golda attended the Fourth Street Grade School (now Golda Meir School
Golda Meir School
The Golda Meir School for gifted and talented students is a Milwaukee Public Schools district elementary school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was renamed in honor of Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel, who attended the institution from 1906 to 1912...

) from 1906 to 1912. A leader early on, she organized a fund raiser to pay for her classmates' textbooks. After forming the American Young Sisters Society, she rented a hall and scheduled a public meeting for the event. She went on to graduate valedictorian
Valedictorian
Valedictorian is an academic title conferred upon the student who delivers the closing or farewell statement at a graduation ceremony. Usually, the valedictorian is the highest ranked student among those graduating from an educational institution...

 of her class, despite not knowing English at the beginning of her schooling.

At 14, she studied at North Division High School
North Division High School (Milwaukee)
North Division High School was one of the major public high schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, part of the Milwaukee Public Schools...

 and worked part-time. Her mother wanted her to leave school and marry, but she rebelled. She bought a train ticket to Denver, Colorado, and went to live with her married sister, Sheyna Korngold. The Korngolds held intellectual evenings at their home, where Meir was exposed to debates on Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

, literature, women's suffrage, trade unionism, and more. In her autobiography, she wrote: "To the extent that my own future convictions were shaped and given form... those talk-filled nights in Denver played a considerable role." In Denver, she also met Morris Meyerson, a sign painter, whom she later married on December 24, 1917.

Return to Milwaukee, Zionist activism and teaching


In 1913, she returned to North Division High, graduating in 1915. While there, she became an active member of Young Poale Zion
Poale Zion
Poale Zion was a Movement of Marxist Zionist Jewish workers circles founded in various cities of the Russian Empire about the turn of the century after the Bund rejected Zionism in 1901.-Formation and early years:Poale Zion parties and organisations were started across the Jewish diaspora in the...

, which later became Habonim
Habonim Dror
Habonim Dror is a Jewish Labour Zionist youth movement formed by the merger in 1982 of the Habonim and Dror youth movements. Habonim Dror's sister movement in Israel is Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, the Working and Studying Youth.-Ideology:...

, the Labor Zionist youth movement. She spoke at public meetings, embraced Socialist Zionism and hosted visitors from Palestine.

She attended the teachers college, Milwaukee State Normal School, (now University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee) in 1916, and probably part of 1917. After graduating from Milwaukee State, she taught in Milwaukee Public Schools
Milwaukee Public Schools
Milwaukee Public Schools is the largest school district in Wisconsin. As of 2007, it had an enrollment of 87,360 students, and as of 2006 employed 6,100 full-time and substitute teachers in 223 schools. The Milwaukee Public Schools system is the 33rd largest in the United States by enrollment...

 (MPS).

In 1917, she took a position at a Yiddish-speaking Folks Schule in Milwaukee. While at the Folks Schule, she came more closely into contact with the ideals of Labor Zionism. In 1913, she began dating Morris Meyerson. She was a committed Labor Zionist and he was a dedicated socialist. Together, they left their jobs to join a kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 in Palestine in 1921.

When Golda and Morris married in 1918, settling in Palestine was her precondition for the marriage. Golda had intended to make Aliyah
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 straight away but her plans were disrupted due to all transatlantic passenger services being canceled due to the first world war
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Instead she threw her energies into Poale Zion activities. A short time after their wedding, she embarked on a fund raising campaign for Poale Zion that took her across the United States. The couple moved to Palestine in 1921 together with her sister Shayna.

Aliyah


In the British Mandate of Palestine, the couple joined a kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

. Their initial application to kibbutz Merhavia
Merhavia (kibbutz)
-External links:*...

 in the Jezreel Valley
Jezreel Valley
-Etymology:The Jezreel Valley takes its name from the ancient city of Jezreel which was located on a low hill overlooking the southern edge of the valley, though some scholars think that the name of the city originates from the name of the clan which founded it, and whose existence is mentioned in...

 was rejected, but in the end they were accepted. Her duties included picking almond
Almond
The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...

s, planting trees, working in the chicken coops and running the kitchen. Recognizing her leadership abilities, the kibbutz chose her as its representative to the Histadrut
Histadrut
HaHistadrut HaKlalit shel HaOvdim B'Eretz Yisrael , known as the Histadrut, is Israel's organization of trade unions. Established in December 1920 during the British Mandate for Palestine, it became one of the most powerful institutions of the State of Israel.-History:The Histadrut was founded in...

, the General Federation of Labour.

In 1924, she and her husband left the kibbutz and resided briefly in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 before settling in Jerusalem. There they had two children, a son Menachem (born 1924) and a daughter Sarah (born 1926).

In 1928, she was elected secretary of Moetzet HaPoalot (Working Women's Council), which required her to spend two years (1932–34) as an emissary in the United States. The children went with her, but Morris stayed in Jerusalem. Morris and Golda grew apart, but never divorced. Morris died in 1951.

Histadrut activities


In 1934, when Meir returned from the United States, she joined the Executive Committee of the Histadrut and moved up the ranks to become head of its Political Department. This appointment was important training for her future role in Israeli leadership.

In July 1938, Meir was the Jewish observer from Palestine at the Évian Conference
Evian Conference
The Évian Conference was convened at the initiative of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1938 to discuss the issue of increasing numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. For eight days, from July 6 to July 13, representatives from 31 countries met at Évian-les-Bains, France...

, called by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt  to discuss the question of Jewish refugees
Jewish refugees
In the course of history, Jewish populations have been expelled or ostracised by various local authorities and have sought asylum from antisemitism numerous times...

 fleeing Nazi persecution. Delegates from the 32 invited countries repeatedly expressed their sorrow for the plight of the European Jews, but made excuses as to why their countries could not help by admitting the refugees. The only exception was the Dominican Republic, which pledged to accept 100,000 refugees on generous terms. Meir was disappointed at the outcome and remarked to the press, "There is only one thing I hope to see before I die and that is that my people should not need expressions of sympathy anymore."

Pre-state political role


In June 1946, the British cracked down on the Zionist movement in Palestine, arresting many leaders of the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

. They had been provoked by paramilitary Zionist activities. Meir took over as acting head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency during the incarceration of Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

. Thus she became the principal negotiator between the Jews in Palestine and the British Mandatory authorities. After his release, Sharett went to the United States to attend talks on the UN Partition Plan, leaving Meir to head the Political Department until the establishment of the state in 1948.

In January 1948, the treasurer of the Jewish Agency was convinced that Israel would not be able to raise more than $7–8 million from the American Jewish community. Meir traveled to the United States and managed to raise $50 million, which was used to purchase arms in Europe for the nascent state. Ben-Gurion wrote that Meir's role as the "Jewish woman who got the money which made the state possible" would go down one day in the history books.

On May 10, 1948, four days before the official establishment of the state, Meir traveled to Amman
Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

 disguised as an Arab woman for a secret meeting with King Abdullah
Abdullah I of Jordan
Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, King of Jordan [‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Husayn] عبد الله الأول بن الحسين born in Mecca, Second Saudi State, was the second of three sons of Sherif Hussein bin Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca and his first wife Abdiyya bint Abdullah...

 of Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

 at which she urged him not to join the other Arab countries in attacking the Jews. Abdullah asked her not to hurry to proclaim a state. Meir replied: "We've been waiting for 2,000 years. Is that hurrying?"

As head of the Jewish Agency Political Department, Meir called the mass exodus of Arabs
1948 Palestinian exodus
The 1948 Palestinian exodus , also known as the Nakba , occurred when approximately 711,000 to 725,000 Palestinian Arabs left, fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Civil War that preceded it. The exact number of refugees is a matter of dispute...

 before the War of Independence in 1948 as "dreadful" and likened it to what had befallen the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Ministerial career


Meir was one of 24 signatories (two of them women) of the Israeli Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. She later recalled, "After I signed, I cried. When I studied American history as a schoolgirl and I read about those who signed the Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

, I couldn't imagine these were real people doing something real. And there I was sitting down and signing a declaration of establishment." Israel was attacked the next day by the joint armies of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

, and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, along with expeditionary forces from other Arab countries and Arab guerilla movements in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

. During the war, Israel stopped the combined Arab assault, then launched a series of military offensives and expanded its territorial holdings.

Ambassador to Moscow


Carrying the first Israeli-issued passport, Meir was appointed Israel's ambassador to the Soviet Union.
During her brief stint there, which ended in 1949, she attended high holiday services at the synagogue in Moscow, where she was mobbed by thousands of Russian Jews
History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union
The vast territories of the Russian Empire at one time hosted the largest populations of Jews in the diaspora. Within these territories the Jewish community flourished and developed many of modern Judaism's most distinctive theological and cultural traditions, while also facing periods of...

 chanting her name. The Israeli 10,000 shekel
Israeli sheqel
The old shekel was the currency of Israel between February 24, 1980, and December 31, 1985 until replaced by the Israeli new shekel at a ratio of 1000:1 on January 1, 1986. The old shekel was short-lived due to the high rates of inflation in Israel at the time. The old shekel was subdivided into...

 banknote issued in November 1984 bore a portrait of Meir on one side and the image of the crowd that turned out to cheer her in Moscow on the other.

Labour minister



In 1949, Meir was elected to the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 as a member of Mapai
Mapai
Mapai was a left-wing political party in Israel, and was the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the Israeli Labor Party in 1968...

 and served continuously until 1974. From 1949 to 1956, she served as Minister of Labour
Labour Minister of Israel
The Labour Minister of Israel was the political head of the Israeli Ministry of Labour and a position in the Israeli cabinet. The post was established in 1948 as the Minister of Labour and Construction...

, introducing major housing and road construction projects. In 1955, on Ben Gurion's instructions, she stood for the position of mayor of Tel Aviv. She lost by the two votes of the religious bloc who withheld their support on the grounds that she was a woman.

Foreign minister


In 1956, she became Foreign Minister
Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel
The Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel is the political head of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The position is one of the most important in the Israeli cabinet after Prime Minister and Defense Minister...

 under Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

. Her predecessor, Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

, had asked all members of the foreign service to Hebraicize
Hebraization of surnames
The Hebraization of surnames is the process of adopting Hebrew family names ....

 their last names. Upon her appointment as foreign minister, she shortened "Meyerson" to "Meir," which means "illuminate." As Foreign Minister, Meir promoted ties with the newly established states in Africa in an effort to gain allies in the international community. But she also believed that Israel had experience in nation-building that could be a model for the Africans. In her autobiography, she wrote: "Like them, we had shaken off foreign rule; like them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together, and how to defend ourselves." Israel could be a role model because it "had been forced to find solutions to the kinds of problems that large, wealthy, powerful states had never encountered."
On October 29, 1957 she was slightly injured in the foot when a 'Mills grenade' was thrown into the debating chamber of the Knesset. David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

 and Moshe Carmel
Moshe Carmel
Moshe Carmel was an Israeli soldier and politician who served as Minister of Transportation for eight years.-Background:Born in Mińsk Mazowiecki in the Russian Empire , Carmel emigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1924 when he was 13 years old. He was a founding member of kibbutz Na'an, and was...

 were more seriously injured. The attack was carried out by 25 year old Moshe Dwek
Moshe Dwek
Moshe Dwek is a Yemenite-Israeli most notable for throwing a hand grenade in the Knesset while it was in session on 29 October 1957 and for a failed run for the Knesset in 1988....

. Born in Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

, his motives were attributed to a dispute with the Jewish Agency, though he was also described as 'mentally unbalanced'.

In 1958, she was recorded as having praised the work of Pope Pius XII on behalf of the Jewish people shortly after the pontiff's death. Pope Pius's legacy as a wartime pope remains controversial to this day.

The same year, during the wave of Jewish migration from Poland to Israel, Meir sought to prevent disabled and sick Polish Jews from immigrating to Israel. In a letter sent to Israel's ambassador in Warsaw, Katriel Katz, she wrote: "A proposal was raised in the coordination committee to inform the Polish government that we want to institute selection in aliyah, because we cannot continue accepting sick and handicapped people. Please give your opinion as to whether this can be explained to the Poles without hurting immigration."

In the early 1960s, Meir was diagnosed with lymphoma
Lymphoma
Lymphoma is a cancer in the lymphatic cells of the immune system. Typically, lymphomas present as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells. Treatment might involve chemotherapy and in some cases radiotherapy and/or bone marrow transplantation, and can be curable depending on the histology, type, and stage...

. In January 1966, she retired from the Foreign Ministry, citing exhaustion and ill health, but soon returned to public life as secretary general of Mapai, supporting the Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol
Levi Eshkol
' served as the third Prime Minister of Israel from 1963 until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to die in office.-Biography:...

, in party conflicts.

Premiership


After Levi Eshkol's sudden death on February 26, 1969, the party elected Meir as his successor. Meir came out of retirement to take office on March 17, 1969, serving as prime minister until 1974. Meir maintained the coalition government formed in 1967, after the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, in which Mapai merged with two other parties (Rafi and Ahdut HaAvoda
Ahdut HaAvoda
Ahdut HaAvoda was the name used by a sequence of political parties that existed firstly during Mandate Palestine and later in Israel. Its original version, led by David Ben-Gurion, is one of the main ancestors of the modern-day Israeli Labor Party....

) to form the Israel Labour party.

In 1969 and the early 1970s, Meir met with many world leaders to promote her vision of peace in the Middle East, including Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 (1969), Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader...

 (1972) and Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

  (1973). In 1973, she hosted the chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt, born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm , was a German politician, Mayor of West Berlin 1957–1966, Chancellor of West Germany 1969–1974, and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany 1964–1987....

 in Israel.

In August 1970, Meir accepted a U.S. peace initiative that called for an end to the War of Attrition
War of Attrition
The international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, but by late 1970 it was clear that this mission had been...

 and an Israeli pledge to withdraw to "secure and recognized boundaries" in the framework of a comprehensive peace settlement. The Gahal
Gahal
Gahal , lit. Herut-Liberals Bloc) was the major right-wing political faction in Israel led by Menachem Begin from its founding in 1965 until it merged into Likud in 1973.-Background:...

 party quit the national unity government in protest, but Meir continued to lead the remaining coalition.

Munich Olympics


In the wake of the Munich massacre
Munich massacre
The Munich massacre is an informal name for events that occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Bavaria in southern West Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September. Members of Black September...

 at the 1972 Summer Olympics
1972 Summer Olympics
The 1972 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held in Munich, West Germany, from August 26 to September 11, 1972....

, Meir appealed to the world to "save our citizens and condemn the unspeakable criminal acts committed." Outraged at the perceived lack of global action, she ordered the Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

 to hunt down and assassinate the Black September
Black September (group)
The Black September Organization was a Palestinian paramilitary group, founded in 1970. It was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes and officials, and fatal shooting of a West German policeman, during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, their most publicized event...

 and PFLP  operatives who took part in the massacre. The 1986 TV film Sword of Gideon
Sword of Gideon
Sword of Gideon is a 1986 television film about Mossad agents hunting down terrorists associated with the 1972 Munich massacre. It was first shown on the CTV network in Canada as a four hour miniseries and later on the HBO television network. Directed by Michael Anderson and written by Chris...

, based on the book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team
Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team
Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team is a 1984 book by George Jonas describing part of Operation Wrath of God, the Israeli assassination campaign launched after the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre...

 by George Jonas
George Jonas
George Jonas is a Hungarian-born Canadian writer and columnist. He is the author of 15 books. They include Vengeance , the story of an Israeli operation to kill the terrorists responsible for the 1972 Munich massacre...

, and Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

's movie Munich
Munich (film)
Munich is a 2005 historical fiction film about the Israeli government's secret retaliation attacks after the massacre of Israeli athletes by the Black September terrorist group during the 1972 Summer Olympics. The film stars Eric Bana and was produced and directed by Steven Spielberg...

 (2005) were based on these events.

Dispute with Austria


During the 1970s some Russian-Jewish emigrants were allowed to leave the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for Israel by way of Austria. When seven of these emigrants were taken hostage at the Austria-Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

n border by Palestinian Arab
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 fighters in September 1973, Austrian Chancellor
Chancellor of Austria
The Federal Chancellor is the head of government in Austria. Its deputy is the Vice-Chancellor. Before 1918, the equivalent office was the Minister-President of Austria. The Federal Chancellor is considered to be the most powerful political position in Austrian politics.-Appointment:The...

 Bruno Kreisky
Bruno Kreisky
Bruno Kreisky was an Austrian politician who served as Foreign Minister from 1959 to 1966 and as Chancellor from 1970 to 1983. Aged 72 at the end of his chancellorship, he was the oldest acting Chancellor after World War II....

 closed the Jewish Agency's transit facility in Schönau
Schönau
- People :* Horst Schönau* Elizabeth of Schönau, a Benedictine nun at Schönau Abbey of Nassau and a friend of Hildegarde of Bingen- Places :Germany:* Schönau , a town in Baden-Württemberg** Schönau Abbey, in this town...

, Lower Austria
Lower Austria
Lower Austria is the northeasternmost state of the nine states in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria since 1986 is Sankt Pölten, the most recently designated capital town in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria had formerly been Vienna, even though Vienna is not officially part of Lower Austria...

. A few days later in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Meir tried to convince Kreisky to re-open the facility by appealing to his own Jewish origin, and described his position as "succumbing to terrorist blackmail". Kreisky did not change his position, so Meir returned to Israel infuriated. A few months later Austria opened a new transition camp.

Yom Kippur War


In the days leading up to the Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

, Israeli intelligence was not able to determine conclusively that an attack was imminent. However, on October 5, 1973, Meir received official news that Syrian forces were massing on the Golan Heights. The prime minister was alarmed by the reports, and felt that the situation reminded her of what happened before the Six Day War. Her advisers, however, assured her not to worry, saying that they would have adequate notice before a war broke out. This made sense at the time, since after the Six Day War, most Israelis felt it unlikely that the Arabs would attack. Consequently, although a resolution was passed granting her power to demand a full-scale call-up of the military (instead of the typical cabinet decision), Meir did not mobilize Israel's forces early. Soon, though, war became very clear. Six hours before the outbreak of hostilities, Meir met with Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan was an Israeli military leader and politician. The fourth Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces , he became a fighting symbol to the world of the new State of Israel...

 and general David Elazar
David Elazar
David "Dado" Elazar was the ninth Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, serving in that capacity from 1972 to 1974. He was forced to resign in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War.-Early life:...

. While Dayan continued to argue that war was unlikely and thus was in favor of calling up the air force and only two divisions, Elazar advocated launching a full-scale pre-emptive strike on Syrian forces.

Meir sided with Dayan, citing Israel's need for foreign aid. She believed that Israel could not depend on European countries to supply Israel with military equipment, and the only country that might come to Israel's assistance was the United States
Israel-United States relations
Israel–United States relations are an important factor in the United States government's overall policy in the Middle East, and Congress has placed considerable importance on the maintenance of a close and supportive relationship. The main expression of Congressional support for Israel has been...

. Fearing that the U.S. would be wary of intervening if Israel were perceived as initiating the hostilities, Meir decided against a pre-emptive strike. She made it a priority to inform Washington of her decision. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

 later confirmed Meir's assessment by stating that if Israel had launched a pre-emptive strike, Israel would not have received "so much as a nail."

Resignation


Following the Yom Kippur War, Meir's government was plagued by in-fighting and questions over Israel's lack of preparedness for the war. The Agranat Commission
Agranat Commission
The Agranat Commission was a National Commision of Inquiry set up to investigate failings in the Israel Defense Forces in the prelude to the Yom Kippur War, when Israel was found unprepared for the Egyptian attack against the Bar Lev Line and a simultaneous attack by Syria in the Golan — the first...

 appointed to investigate the war cleared her of "direct responsibility," and related to her actions on Yom Kippur morning;
Her party won the elections in December 1973, but she resigned on April 11, 1974, bowing to what she felt was the "will of the people." and what she felt was a sufficient premiership as well as the pending pressures of forming a coalition; "Five years are sufficient...It is beyond my strength to continue carrying this burden." Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

 succeeded her on June 3, 1974.

In 1975, she published her autobiography, My Life
My Life (Golda Meir autobiography)
My Life is the autobiography of the first female Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir. The book was published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1975.-Reception:...

.

According to author Victor John Ostrovsky she had a long running affair with her minister without portfolio Yisrael Galili.

Death



On December 8, 1978, Meir died of lymphatic cancer in Jerusalem at the age of 80.
Four days later, on December 12, Meir was buried on Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl , also Har HaZikaron , is the national cemetery of Israel on the west side of Jerusalem. It is named for Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. Herzl's tomb lies at the top of the hill. Yad Vashem, which commemorates the Holocaust, lies to the west of Mt. Herzl....

 in Jerusalem.

Awards


In 1975, Meir was awarded the Israel Prize
Israel Prize
The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

 for her special contribution to society and the State of Israel.
In 1974, Meir was awarded the honor of World Mother by American Mothers, Inc.

Portrayals in film and theater


Meir's story has been the subject of many fictionalized portrayals. In 1977, Anne Bancroft
Anne Bancroft
Anne Bancroft was an American actress associated with the Method acting school, which she had studied under Lee Strasberg....

 played Meir in William Gibson
William Gibson (playwright)
William Gibson was an American playwright and novelist. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1938.He was of Irish, French, German, Dutch and Russian ancestry...

's Broadway play Golda. The Australian actress Judy Davis
Judy Davis
Judy Davis is an Australian actress best known for her roles in Husbands and Wives, Barton Fink, A Passage to India and in the TV miniseries Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows....

 played a young Meir in the television film A Woman Called Golda
A Woman Called Golda
A Woman Called Golda is a 1982 made-for-television film biopic of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.Made by Paramount Television and directed by Alan Gibson, the film stars Ingrid Bergman in the title role...

 (1982), opposite Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Simon Nimoy is an American actor, film director, poet, musician and photographer. Nimoy's most famous role is that of Spock in the original Star Trek series , multiple films, television and video game sequels....

. Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman was a Swedish actress who starred in a variety of European and American films. She won three Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and the Tony Award for Best Actress. She is ranked as the fourth greatest female star of American cinema of all time by the American Film Institute...

 played the older Golda in the same film. In 2003, the American Jewish actress Tovah Feldshuh
Tovah Feldshuh
Tovah Feldshuh is an American actress, singer and playwright.-Early life:Terri Sue Feldshuh was born to a Jewish family in New York City, the daughter of Lillian and Sidney Feldshuh, who was a lawyer. She was raised in Scarsdale, New York, an affluent community in Westchester County and graduated...

 portrayed her on Broadway in Golda's Balcony
Golda's Balcony
Golda's Balcony is a play by William Gibson.It follows the trajectory of the life of Golda Meir from Russian immigrant to American schoolteacher to a leader of international politics as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel. Much of its focus is on the period surrounding the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when...

, Gibson's second play about Meir's life. The one-woman show was controversial in its implication that Meir considered using nuclear weapons
Nuclear weapons and Israel
Israel is widely believed to be the sixth country in the world to have developed nuclear weapons and to be one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty , the others being India, Pakistan and North Korea...

 during the Yom Kippur War.

Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper is an American actress, known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on the 1970s television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and for her starring roles on the sitcoms Rhoda and Valerie.-Early life and career:Harper was born at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, Rockland County,...

 portrayed her in the touring company and in the film version of Golda's Balcony. Supporting actress Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Rose Dewhurst was a Canadian-American actress known for a while as "the Queen of Off-Broadway." In her autobiography, Dewhurst wrote: "I had moved so quickly from one Off-Broadway production to the next that I was known, at one point, as the 'Queen of Off-Broadway'...

 portrayed her in the 1986 TV-movie Sword of Gideon
Sword of Gideon
Sword of Gideon is a 1986 television film about Mossad agents hunting down terrorists associated with the 1972 Munich massacre. It was first shown on the CTV network in Canada as a four hour miniseries and later on the HBO television network. Directed by Michael Anderson and written by Chris...

. In 2005, actress Lynn Cohen
Lynn Cohen
Lynn Cohen is an American actress. She is probably best known for playing Magda in the HBO series Sex and the City and the 2008 film of the same name. She has also played Judge Elizabeth Mizener several times on Law & Order, and has appeared in the movies Munich, Vanya on 42nd Street, Synecdoche,...

 portrayed Meir in Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

's film Munich
Munich (film)
Munich is a 2005 historical fiction film about the Israeli government's secret retaliation attacks after the massacre of Israeli athletes by the Black September terrorist group during the 1972 Summer Olympics. The film stars Eric Bana and was produced and directed by Steven Spielberg...

. Later on, Tovah Feldshuh assumed her role once again in the 2006 English-speaking French movie O Jerusalem
O Jerusalem (film)
O Jerusalem is a 2006 drama film directed by Elie Chouraqui. It is based on the history book of the same name, written by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins....

. She was played by the Polish actress Beata Fudalej in the 2009 film The Hope by Márta Mészáros
Márta Mészáros
Márta Mészáros is a Hungarian film director. She worked as an English Teachersmeaning? filmmaker in the 1960s, but in the following decade began making films drawing on the oppression of both state and gender...

.

Commemoration


  • Golda Meir School
    Golda Meir School
    The Golda Meir School for gifted and talented students is a Milwaukee Public Schools district elementary school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was renamed in honor of Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel, who attended the institution from 1906 to 1912...

    , Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Golda Meir Library
    Golda Meir Library
    The Golda Meir Library is the main library of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. The Library has more than 4.5 million catalogued items, many of which are available electronically through Electronic Reserve, web-based online catalog, searchable databases and indexes.The building was first...

    , University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Golda Meir Boulevard, Jerusalem, Israel (and various other streets, neighborhoods and schools in Israel)
  • Golda Meir Center for the Performing Arts, Tel Aviv
  • Golda Meir Square, New York City
  • Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership at Metropolitan State College of Denver
    Metropolitan State College of Denver
    The Metropolitan State College of Denver is a four-year college and now offers certain Graduate programs located in Denver, Colorado, United States. As of 2009, Metro State had the second-largest enrollment of undergraduates of any college in Colorado...

  • Golda Meir House, Denver, Colorado
  • Golda Meir House, Newton, Massachusetts

Cultural references


In Israel, the term "Golda's shoes" (na'alei Golda), a reference to the sturdy orthopedic shoes that Golda favored, has become a euphemism for all that is ugly and old-fashioned.

Poll


In 2005, she was voted the 75th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
Ynet
Ynet is the most popular Israeli news and general content website. It is owned by the same conglomerate that operates Yediot Ahronot, the country's secondleading daily newspaper...

 to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

Published works

  • This is Our Strength (1962) – Golda Meir's collected papers
  • My Father's House (1972)
  • My Life
    My Life (Golda Meir autobiography)
    My Life is the autobiography of the first female Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir. The book was published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1975.-Reception:...

     (1975). Putnam
    G. P. Putnam's Sons
    G. P. Putnam's Sons was a major United States book publisher based in New York City, New York. Since 1996, it has been an imprint of the Penguin Group.-History:...

    , ISBN 0-399-11669-9.

External links




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