Golda Meir

August 23, 2011 Back

Golda Meir

Golda Meir (1898-1978) was the fourth Prime Minister of Israel, the first woman prime minister in Israel, and third woman prime minister in the world.  She was known as the “Iron Lady” in Israeli Politics and was known for having a commanding personality.

Early Life

Golda Meir was born in Kiev as Golda Mabovitch to Bluma Neiditch and Moshe Mabovitch, a carpenter.  She had two sisters, Shayna and Tzipke along with five siblings who died during childhood.  In 1906, she moved to Milwaukee, WI and lived until the beginning of high school, when she ran away to Denver to be with Shayna for two years.  In 1913, she returned to Milwaukee, finished high school and college and worked in the Milwaukee public school system until 1917. 

During her time in Denver, she met Morris Meyerson who she later married in 1918.  It was also during this time that her political views were shaped.

Politics

During high school, Meir became a secular Zionist, becoming a member of Poale Zion and later on, HaBonim.  She made Aliyah with her husband in 1921 and in 1924 she joined the Histadrut, serving as its spokesperson.

During the two years prior to the establishment of the state, Golda’s career took off.  In 1946 following the Moshe Sharett, she was the negotiator with the British Mandatory Authorities and in 1948, she raised $50 million for purchasing military equipment for Israel.  Meir was also one of the 24 signatories of the declaration of independence.  She also attempted to prevent the War of Independence, albeit unsuccessfully.

Upon the establishment of the state, Golda served as ambassador to USSR for one year.  The next year, she joined the Mapai party and served in Knesset from 1949 until 1974, when she retired.  In 1956 she became the Foreign minister and it was during this time that she changed her name from Meyerson to Meir.  She temporarily retired in 1966 because of Lymphoma.

In 1969, Golda became Prime Minister of Israel upon Levi Eshkol’s death.  It was here where Golda truly made her mark and became known for her powerful personality.  She became famous for ordering the Mossad to eliminate the PFLP terrorists who killed the Israeli Olympians in the 1972 Munich Olympics.  In 1970, Meir forced Austria to allow Russian-Jewish Emigrants to move to Israel.  Finally, in 1973, she ordered the counter offensive that ended the Yom Kippur war.  In 1974, she retired from politics.

Personal Life

Golda Meir was married to Morris Meyerson.  They married in 1918 and had two children, Menachem and Sarah.   Golda died December 8, 1978 from Lymphoma in Jerusalem at the age of 80 and was buried on Mount Herzl a few days later.

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