Golda Meir: Pioneering Woman That Heled Found Israel & Then Led It

Golda Meir: Who Was She?

Golda Meir (1898 – 1976) was an Israeli political leader who served as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.

She was the first ever female Prime Minister of Israel, and only the 3rd woman in the world to lead a state.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, she immigrated to the United States as a child with her family.

In 1917, she moved to Palestine and eventually became one of the founders of the Labor Zionist movement.

She served in a number of leadership roles in the Jewish community in Palestine prior to Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948.

As prime minister, Meir oversaw the country during some of its most challenging moments, including the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

She resigned from office in 1974 and died two years later.

Golda Meir was a controversial figure during her lifetime, but her legacy as one of Israel’s most important leaders is undeniable.

Golda Meir: Birth & Early Life

Golda Meir was born in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 3, 1898.

She was the fourth of eight children born to Blume and Moshe Mabovitch, two Orthodox Jews. When Golda was just eight years old, her family immigrated to the United States, settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Golda’s father struggled to find work as a carpenter, and the family lived in poverty.

Despite the difficult circumstances of her early life, Golda excelled in school. After graduating from high school, she attended teacher’s college.

Golda Meir: Immigrating to Israel

In 1917, at the age of 19, she made the decision to move to what was then known as Palestine, and today is the State of Israel.

This was a controversial choice at the time, as many Jews were still opposed to the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. Until 1917, the land of Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, but in 1917, after the British won they occupied Palestine.

It thus became part of the British Empire.

Golda’s decision to move to Palestine was motivated by her Zionist beliefs.

Zionism is a political movement that calls for the establishment of a Jewish state in the historical land of Israel.

Since arriving in Israel, Meir joined the Labor Zionist Movement, the largest Zionist and Socialist group in Israel. She remained a lifelong, influential member of the group.

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In Palestine, Golda met and married Morris Meyerson, another Labor Zionist. The couple changed their name from Meyerson to Meir to make their name sound more Hebrew.

The couple had two children, Sarah and Menachem.

Golda quickly became involved in the Jewish community in Palestine. She worked as a teacher and labor organizer, and eventually became a leader in the Labor Party.

In 1948, Golda Meir was one of the signatories of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. She served as Minister of Labor and later as Foreign Minister. The fact that she was highly fluent in English, made her a prominent figure in shaping the U.S-Israel relationship.

The 25th anniversary of the immigration of the Moroccan Jewry, an assembly was held in Jerusalem with the presence of PM Golda Meir. Photo shows: Prime Minister Golda Meir addressing during the assembly in Jerusalem, 1971/09/02 Copyright © IPPA 07160-000- 23 Photo by IPPA Staff

Golda Meir: Becoming the Prime Minister of Israel

In 1969, she was elected Prime Minister of Israel, becoming the country’s first and only female prime minister to date. She was the 3rd women overall to led a country in modern times after Sirimavo Bandaranaike from Sri Lanka, and Indira Gandhi from India.

As prime minister, Golda Meir faced many challenges.

One big challenge was the shocking terror attack in the 1972 Munich Olympics terror attack.

The tragedy saw 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team taken hostage by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, leading to a tense and escalating situation as negotiations between them and the German Government took place.

Meir later said of the night of the events: “If there is any tangible manifestation of schizophrenia, it was that night”.

Meir and her cabinet coordinated a covert rescue mission to try and free the hostages which unfortunately ended in failure, with all of them being killed. The operation was later commemorated in Steven Spielberg’s film Munich.

But her most serious challenge was the 1973 Yom Kippur War. This conflict began when Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

The war was a turning point in Israeli history, and it had a profound effect on Golda Meir. While ultimately Israel was able to win with the US’s help, the war to this day is considered a national trauma in Israel.

The Yom Kippur War was a devastating experience for Golda Meir.

Many Israelis were killed, and the country was plunged into a deep crisis. Despite the fact that Israel ultimately prevailed, many Israelis perceived the war as a loss and blamed the result on Meir. The fact that she was a woman helped make her into an easy scapegoat.

She was criticized for her handling of the conflict, and she came under intense pressure to resign.

Soon mass protests appeared all over Israel demanding she resign. The protest movement was wide-spread – Israel was rocked by the largest protests the country has seen to date.

In 1974, Golda Meir announced her resignation as prime minister.

The Knesset held an outstanding session with the annoucement of PM Golda Meir resign as Prime Minister.. Photo shows: Golda Meir answering to Menahem Begin’s speech 1974/04/12 Copyright © IPPA 09175-006-36 Photo by IPPA Staff

Golda Meir: Her Death & Legacy

She retired from politics altogether and died two years later, in 1976.

She was a lifelong smoker – something that was one of her symbols. She had a deep, raspy voice that is often associated with heavy smoker.

However, her lifelong smoking led to her dying from lung cancer in 1976.

Golda Meir was a controversial figure during her lifetime, but her legacy as one of Israel’s most important leaders is undeniable.

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