Golda Meir

Golda Meir – The ‘Iron Lady’ of Israeli Politics

On International Women’s Day, FOZ Museum recognizes the many great women in the world – past and present – who stood for what is right and good. One of these women was Golda Meir an Israeli teacher, stateswoman and Politician but best known as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel and the first woman to hold the title.

Golda Meir

She was born Goldie Mabovitch in Kiev, Ukraine in 1898. Her family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1906 to escape the pogroms that were carried out against Jews in Russia at the time. In Milwaukee, Golda joined the Zionist Movement that supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In 1921, together with her husband Morris Meyerson, they left for the British Mandated territory of Palestine which included the present-day State of Israel and the West Bank.

Golda intensified her political activity by representing the Histadrut Trade Union (the General Organization of Workers in Israel) and serving as a delegate to the World Zionist Organization. During the British Mandate and especially following the White Paper of 1939, many Jews were arrested and among them was Moshe Sharret – the chief liaison with the British Government. Golda Had replaced him and during the WWII, she emerged as a powerful spokesperson for the Zionist movement and fought hard against the White Paper policy that allowed Arab officials to determine the rate of Jewish immigration to the land, pleading that increased Jewish immigration was crucial in light of the persecution by the German Nazi regime. She later organized fundraising events in the United States for an Israeli independent state.

Following the establishment of the state, Golda was elected to the first Israeli Parliament as Minister of Labor and social insurance, where she oversaw the construction of 200,000 low income apartments to house Israel’s newly immigrated families. In 1956, she was appointed foreign minister and helped establish relations with emerging African countries and strengthened ties with the United States and Latin America.

At the age of 68, Golda Meir wished to retire from public life, but other members of her Political Party – Mapai, encouraged her to stay and serve as the Party’s secretary general. In 1969, following the death of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol she agreed to serve out the remainder of his term. That same year, her party won the elections, giving her a four-year term

as prime minister. By that she became the first (and only so far) female Prime Minister in Israel and the 3rd in the world. In 1973 the Yom Kippur War broke out, and after three weeks, Israel was victorious and had gained more Arab land. Golda Meir formed a new coalition government but resigned on April 10, 1974.

Golda had many accomplishments during her political life including being one of the 24 signatories who signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence which established a separate State of Israel. But she is also remembered as a person of strong character known for her honest and straightforward ways. She was passionate about everything she became involved in. Her nick name was the ‘Iron Lady’ of Israeli politics.

Golda remained an important political presence and to this day retains a place in the heart of the people of Israel as the kindly grandmother who rose to greatness in her country’s hour of need.  Golda Meir died in Jerusalem on December 8th 1978.