- Golda Meir
Infobox Prime Minister
name = Golda Meir
Prime Minister of Israel
term_start =17 March 1969
term_end =3 June 1974
office2 =Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel
term_start2 =18 June 1956
term_end2 =12 January 1966
birth_date =birth date|df=yes|1898|5|3
Kiev, Russian Empire
death_date =death date and age|df=yes|1978|12|8|1898|5|3
Golda Meir (IPA-all|/ɠɔlda maj:er/, [ [http://www.mscd.edu/~golda/ Golda Meir Center (Reference on name pronunciation)] ] _he. גּוֹלְדָּה מֵאִיר, _ar. جولدا مائير, born Golda Mabovitch, 3 May 1898 - 8 December 1978, known as Golda Myerson from 1917-1956) was the fourth prime minister of the State of Israel.
Golda Meir was elected
Prime Minister of Israelon 17 March 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister. She was described as the " Iron Lady" of Israeli politics years before the epithet became associated with British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/events/israel_at_50/profiles/81288.stm Golda Meir] , a BBC Newsprofile.] David Ben-Gurionused to call her "the best man in the government." [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/998369.html Mother of a nation, but not much of a mother] Haaretz, 7 July 2008] Meir was Israel's first and thus far only female prime minister. She was the world's third female prime minister, but the first to hold this office without any prior family connection. [The female Prime Ministers before Golda Meir were Sirimavo Bandaranaikeof Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Indira Gandhiof India.] Meir was often portrayed as the "strong-willed, straight-talking, gray-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people."
Meir was born Golda Mabovitch ( _uk. Голда Мабович) in
Kievin the Russian Empire(today Ukraine), to Blume Naidich and Moshe Mabovitch, a carpenter. Golda wrote in her autobiographythat her earliest memories were of her father boarding up the front door in response to rumors of an imminent pogrom. She had two sisters, Sheyna and Tzipke. Five other siblings died in childhood. Golda was especially close to Sheyna. Moshe Mabovitch left for the United Statesin 1903, and the family followed in 1906. [ [http://www.ajhs.org/publications/chapters/chapter.cfm?documentID=272 Golda Meir's American Roots ] ]
The family settled in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, where her father found a job as a carpenter, and her mother ran a grocery store. At the age of eight, she was already put in charge of watching the store when her mother went to the market for supplies.
Golda attended the Fourth Street School (now
Golda Meir School) from 1906 to 1912. A leader early on, Golda organized a fundraiser 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. When she began school, she did not know English, but she graduated as valedictorianof her class.At 14, she went to North Division High School 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, 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 at the age of 19. [http://www.mscd.edu/~golda/Norm%20Stuff/GOLDA%20MEIR%20OUTLINE.html Golda Meir: An Outline Of A Life] Metropolitan State College of Denver]
In 1913, Golda returned to her high school in Milwaukee, graduating in 1915. While there, she became an active member of Young
Poale Zion, which later became Habonim, the Labor Zionist youth movement. She spoke at public meetings, embraced Socialist Zionism and hosted visitors from Palestine.
After graduating from the Milwaukee State Normal School (a predecessor of the
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), she taught in public schools. She formally joined Poale Zion in 1915.
Golda and Morris married in 1917. Settling in Palestine was Golda's precondition for the marriage. Golda had intended to make
Aliyahstraight away but her plans were disrupted due to all transatlantic passenger services being canceled due to the first world war. Instead she threw her energies into Poale Zion activities. [Elinor Burkett "Golda Mier; The Iron Lady of the Middle East", Gibson Square, ISBN 978-1906142131 p 37] A short time after their wedding, Golda embarked on a fundraising campaign for Poale Zion that took her across the United States. Finding herself pregnant, she underwent an abortion because she felt "her Zionist obligations simply did not leave room for a child." The couple moved to Palestine in 1921 together with Golda's sister Sheyna.
Aliyah to Palestine
In Palestine, the couple joined a
kibbutz. Their initial application to kibbutz Merhavia in the Jezreel Valleywas rejected, but in the end they were accepted. Golda's duties included picking almonds, 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, the General Federation of Labour. In 1924, Golda and her husband left the kibbutz and resided briefly in Tel Avivbefore settling in Jerusalem. There they had two children, a son Menachem (born 1924) and a daughter Sarah (born 1926). In 1928, Golda 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. [ Golda Meir, "Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel", ed. Raphael Patai, New York, 1971, vol.II, pp. 776-777] The children went with her, but Morris stayed in Jerusalem. Morris and Golda grew apart and eventually divorced. Morris died in 1951.
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."Golda Meir," "Encyclopedia Judaica," Keter, 1972, Jerusalem, vol. 11, pp. 1242-1245]
In July 1938, Meir was the Jewish observer from
Palestineat the Évian Conference, called by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to discuss the question of Jewish refugeesfleeing Nazipersecution. 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. 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. They had been provoked by paramilitary Zionist activities. [ The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict: Seventh Revised and Updated E by Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin ] Meir took over as acting head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agencyduring the incarceration of Moshe Sharett. 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 Agencywas 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 10 May 1948, four days before the official establishment of the state, Meir traveled to
Ammandisguised as an Arab woman for a secret meeting with King Abdullah of Transjordanat 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. Golda, known for her acerbic wit, replied: "We've been waiting for 2,000 years. Is that hurrying?" [cite news
title = Golda Meir: Peace and Arab Acceptance Were Goals of Her 5 Years as Premier
The New York Times
url = http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0503.html]
As head of the Jewish Agency Political Department, Meir called the mass exodus of Arabs before the War of Independence in 1948 as "dreadful" and likened it to what had befallen the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/books/review/Margolick-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=review Endless War] New York Times, 4 May 2008]
Meir was one of twenty-four signatories (two of them women) of the Israeli declaration of independence on 14 May 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, 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, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Iraqin the Israeli War of Independence.
Ambassador to Moscow
Armed with the first Israeli-issued passport, [ [http://www.emeryweiner.org/cmtpages.php?file_name=goldacircle&link_id=294&preview=A Golda's Circle] The Emery/Weiner School] [ [http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/26398/edition_id/509/format/html/displaystory.html Golda Meir’s life was devoted to building Zionism] Jewish News Weekly, 15 July 2005] 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 chanting her name. Despite Stalin's repression of Jewish identity in the Soviet Union, the turnout showed that the Jewish community was still strong and united. The Israeli 10,000 shekelbanknote issued in November 1984 bore a portrait of Golda on one side and the image of the crowd that turned out to cheer her in Moscow on the other. [ [http://www.iasps.org/nbn/nbn353.htm Call Uncle Sam] News Behind the News, 10 June 2001]
In 1949, Meir was elected to the
Knessetas a member of Mapaiand served continuously until 1974. From 1949 to 1956, she served as Minister of Labour, introducing major housing and road construction projects."Golda Meir," Encyclopedia Britannica, Micropedia, 1974, 15th edition, pp.762]
In 1956, she became Foreign Minister under Prime Minister
David Ben-Gurion. Her predecessor, Moshe Sharett, had asked all members of the foreign service to Hebraicize 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." [Golda Meir, "My Life," (NY: Dell Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 308-309]
In the early 1960s, Meir was diagnosed with
lymphoma. 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, in party conflicts.
After Levi Eshkol's sudden death on 26 February 1969, the party elected Meir as his successor. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/7/newsid_4205000/4205843.stm 1969: Israel elects first female leader] BBC News] Meir came out of retirement to take office on 17 March 1969, serving as prime minister until 1974. Meir maintained the coalition government formed in 1967, after the
Six-Day War, in which Mapai merged with two other parties (Rafi and Ahdut HaAvoda) 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(1969), Nicolae Ceausescu(1972) and Pope Paul VI(1973). In 1973, she hosted the chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandtin Israel.
In August 1970, Meir accepted a U.S. peace initiative that called for an end to the
War of Attritionand an Israeli pledge to withdraw to "secure and recognized boundaries" in the framework of a comprehensive peace settlement. The Gahalparty quit the national unity government in protest, but Meir continued to lead the remaining coalition. ["Golda Meir" Encyclopedia Judaica, Keter, Jerusalem, 1972, p. 1242-1244]
In the wake of the
Munich massacreat the 1972 Summer Olympics, Meir appealed to the world to "save our citizens and condemn the unspeakable criminal acts committed." [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/campaigns/middle_east/midmun.xml Hostages killed in gun battle] Daily Telegraph, 5 September 1972] Outraged at the perceived lack of global action, she authorized the Mossadto hunt down and assassinate the Black September and PFLPoperatives who took part in the massacre. [cite book
last = Morris
first = B.
title = Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab conflict, 1881–2000
year = 1999, 2001
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-679-74475-4] The 1986 TV film "
Sword of Gideon", based on the book "" by George Jonas, and Steven Spielberg's movie "Munich" (2005) were loosely based on these events.
Yom Kippur War
In the days leading up to the
Yom Kippur War, Israeli intelligence was not able to determine conclusively that an attack was imminent. However, on 5 October 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 1967 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 1967 war, most Israelis felt it unlikely that Arabs would attack again. 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 Dayanand general David Elazar. 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. [ [http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/9565.html Interview with Abraham Rabinovich: The Yom Kippur War as a Turning Point] History News Network] ]
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. 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 Kissingerlater 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."Fact|date=February 2008
Biographer Elinor Burkett comes to a different interpretation of Meir; she says that Meir was the real hero of the war and not the Minister of Defense
Moshe Dayan, who considered surrender. [cite web|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/weather/world/middle_east/article4164420.ece| title=How Golda Meir won the Yom Kippur war| publisher=The Sunday Times | date =2000-09-22]
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 Commissionappointed to investigate the war cleared her of direct responsibility, and her party won the elections in December 1973, but she resigned on 11 April 1974, bowing to what she felt was the "will of the people." [ [http://www.zionism-israel.com/bio/golda_meir_biography.htm Biography of Golda Meir] Zionism and Israel] Yitzhak Rabinsucceeded her on 3 June 1974.
In 1975, Meir was awarded the
Israel Prizefor her special contribution to the State of Israel. [ [http://www.virtualjerusalem.com/jeisholidays/independence/53/meir.htm Golda Meir] Virtual Jerusalem]
On 8 December 1978, Golda Meir died of
cancerin Jerusalemat the age of 80. She was buried on Mount Herzlin Jerusalem on 12 December 1978.
Portrayals in film and theater
Golda Meir's story has been the subject of many fictionalized portrayals over the years. In 1977,
Anne Bancroftplayed Meir in William Gibson's Broadway play "Golda." Ingrid Bergmanand the Australian actress Judy Davisplayed Meir in the television film " A Woman Called Golda" (1982), opposite Leonard Nimoy. In 2003, the American Jewishactress Tovah Feldshuhportrayed her on Broadway in " Golda's Balcony", Gibson's second play about Meir's life. The one-woman show was controversial in its implication that Meir considered using nuclear weapons during the Yom Kippur War. Valerie Harperportrayed her in the touring company and in the film version of "Golda's Balcony".Fact|date=January 2008 In 2005, actress Lynn Cohenportrayed Meir in Steven Spielberg's film "Munich." Later on, Tovah Feldshuh assumed her role once again in the 2006 English-speaking French movie O Jerusalem.
*"The Muslims can fight and lose, then come back and fight again. But Israel can only lose once."
*"There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist." ["Sunday Times", 15 June 1969]
*" [The Arabs] will stop fighting us when they love their children more than they hate [Jews] ."
*"When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons." (Press conference after the Six-Day War, 1967) [Jessica Gribetz (1997, 2004), "Wise Words: Jewish Thoughts and Stories Through the Ages", p. 182.]
*Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership at
Metropolitan State College of Denver[ [http://www.mscd.edu/~golda Golda Meir Center ] ]
*Golda Meir House, Denver, Colorado [ [http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.co0203 Golda Meir House] U.S. Library of Congress]
*Golda Meir School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin [ [http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1434 Fourth Street School] Wisconsin Historical Society]
Golda Meir Library
*Golda Meir Boulevard, Jerusalem, Israel
*Golda Meir Center for the Performing Arts, Tel Aviv
*Golda Meir Square, New York City [ [http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/2587388879/ Golda Meir Square ] ]
*"This is Our Strength" (1962) - Golda Meir's collected papers
*"My Father's House" (1972)
* cite book
last = Meir
first = Golda
title = My Life
publisher = Putnam
year = 1975
id = ISBN 0-399-11669-9
* cite book
last = Agres
first = Elijahu
title = Golda Meir: Portrait of a Prime Minister
publisher = Sabra Books
year = 1969
id = ISBN 0-87631-020-X
* cite book
last = Burkett
first = Elinor
title = Golda Meir: The Iron Lady of the Middle East
year = 2008
id = ISBN 978-1906142131
* cite book
last = Fallaci
first = Oriana
title = Interview With History
year = 1976
id = ISBN 0-395-25223-7
* cite book
last = Martin
first = Ralph G.
title = Golda Meir: The Romantic Years
publisher = Ivy Books
year = 1988
id = ISBN 0-8041-0536-7
* cite book
last = Meir
first = Menahem
title = My Mother Golda Meir: A Son's Evocation of Life With Golda Meir
publisher = Arbor House Pub. Co.
year = 1983
id = ISBN 0-87795-415-1
* cite book
last = Syrkin
first = Marie
title = Golda Meir: Israel's Leader
publisher = Putnam
year = 1969
* cite book
last = Syrkin
first = Marie
title = Golda Meir: Woman with a Cause
year = 1963
* http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Government/Memorial/PrimeMinisters/Golda.htm Prime Minister Golda Meir] — Israeli Prime Minister's Office
* [http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=685 Knesset Member, Golda Meir] — Knesset profile
* [http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts%20About%20Israel/State/Golda%20Meir Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs]
* [http://www.jafi.org.il/education/100/people/BIOS/golda.html Jewish Agency For Israel]
* [http://www.encyclopaediajudaica.com/sample-articles/article_view.php?sid=golda-meir Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd edition]
* [http://www.wic.org/bio/gmeir.htm Women's International Center]
* [http://www.uwm.edu/Library/digilib/Golda/index.html Picturing Golda Meir] — Photographs from the Collection at the UWM Libraries
* [http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreign%20relations/israels%20foreign%20relations%20since%201947/1947-1974/table%20of%20contents#xiii Yom Kippur War: Selected Documents] — Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
* [http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Golda_Meir Quotes by Golda Meir] — Listing of various quotes by Golda Meir
NAME = Meir, Golda
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Mabovitch, Golda; Myerson, Golda; גולדה מאיר
SHORT DESCRIPTION =
Prime Minister of Israel
DATE OF BIRTH = 3 May 1898
PLACE OF BIRTH =
DATE OF DEATH = 8 December 1978
PLACE OF DEATH =
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.