JW Tribute : Golda Meir -1898 - 1978
The Mother of a Nation.
"Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement."
Golda Meir, the pioneering leader of the State of Israel, played a crucial role in developing the young country, becoming one of the most prominent female politicians in world history.
She was an Israeli teacher, kibbutznik, stateswoman, and diplomat who became the fourth Prime Minister of Israel at the age of 70, making her the first female head of government and the third woman in the world to hold that title. She was the only woman among the state's founding fathers. She became one of the most prominent female politicians of her era.
From labor and foreign minister to head of state, she never disremembered her humble beginnings fighting tirelessly against social injustice and advocating for workers and women's rights throughout her political career. A pioneer visionary and risk-taker, she devoted her full life to protect her people.
Her endurance gained her the "Iron Lady" epithet in the political field, but to millions of Jews and Israelis, she will be our "Golda," Mother of a Nation.
BY JW staff
Golda Meir (1898-1978), Israeli Prime Minister, 1963. CC wiki
Name: born, Golda Mabovitch. Married name Golda Meyerson (Hebraization to Meir)
Birth: May 3, 1898, in Kyiv, Russian Empire (now Ukraine)
Death: December 8, 1978, in Jerusalem
Parents: Blume Neiditch and Moshe Mabovitch
Spouse: Morris Meyerson (1917–1951)
Education: Milwaukee State Normal School, USA
Political Party: Mapai (before 1968) Labor party (1968-1978)
Other affiliations: Alignment (1969-1978)
UNDER GOLDA'S FOOTSTEPS
A long journey led her from rural Ukraine at the turn of the 20th century, when Jews lived in constant fear of violence and pogroms, to end up in "The Promised Land" as its primary leader.
Born in the Russian Empire, during her childhood time, she suffered antisemitic persecutions and extreme poverty. The memory of those years marked her for the rest of her life.
"If there's an explanation, the course that took my life, it's surely my wish and determination that a Jewish child won't ever have to go throughout such an experience," she once said.
Even though she fled and immigrated to the United States, those thoughts were her "motto," the force behind her tireless fight. From the days of helping her parents at their grocery store in Milwaukee, farming at a kibbutz, or advocating for the trade union rights, every step she made was driven by a deep love for her homeland and her people. Her extraordinary life of achievement and enduring state career is today an example and source of immense "inspiration" for today's generations and the next to come.
Golda was born in 1989 in Kyiv, Russian Empire (today Ukraine) to a traditional Jewish family. She grew up in times of high poverty and anti-Semitism in Europe. Her father left for New York City in search of employment. After a few years, he managed to send money to his family and bring them to the United States of America.
IN THE UNITED STATES
They settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Golda Meir went to high school and got a teaching degree.
She got married to Morris Meyerson. As an active militant of labor rights, she joined the Labor Zionist Party - which supported the establishment of the State of Israel in the British Mandate of Palestine- becoming later the party's leader.
IN THE PROMISE LAND
In 1921, Golda Meir and her husband emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine, arriving at Merhavia Kibbutz, where they lived and worked the land. Later, they moved to Jerusalem, where they had two children, and where the rest of Milwaukee's family joined them.
While in Jerusalem, Golda became much involved in political activities. She represented the Trade Union organization, Histadrut, and became head of its political department in 1940. She also served as a delegate to the World Zionist Organization, which was the real beginning of her political career.
WORLD WAR II
Before World War II, British officials had promised to establish a Jewish homeland, but that never happened. The British White Paper of 1939 only called for a Jewish home, not a Jewish state, and it allowed Arab officials to limit the rate of Jewish immigration. During WW II, Golda emerged as a forceful spokesman for the Zionist movement and pleaded to increase Jewish immigration, which was crucial because of the Nazi persecution. In 1939, she attended the Evian Conference convened by the United States to aid the Nazi regime's Jewish victims. There, she stated: "There is only one thing that I hope to see before I die, and it is that my people need no manifestation of compassion ever again." In 1946, the British arrested many Jewish activists, including the Jewish Agency's head, Moshe Sharett. Golda Meir replaced him momentarily and negotiated his release, after which Sharett came back and took over his former position.
In 1948, Golda Meir was one of the signers of Israel's declaration of independence, and the same year she was appointed as minister plenipotentiary to Moscow. But when hostilities broke out between Arab nations and Israel, she returned to Israel.
ISRAELI PARLIAMENT AND LABOR MINISTER
In 1949, Golda Meir was elected to The Knesset (Israeli parliament) and served in that body until 1974. From 1949 to 1956, as Minister of Labor, she supported housing and road construction programs and vigorously defended the unrestricted Jewish immigration policy to Israel.
Among others, she directly tried to dissuade King Abdullah of Jordan from joining Israel's invasion set on by other Arab nations. Also, she promoted the Israeli policy of aid to the new African states to develop diplomatic support among neutral nations.
MAPAI PARTY AND THE ISRAEL LABOUR PARTY
At age 68, exhausted and already sick, she wished to retire from public life. Still, the Mapai party members encouraged her to answer as the party's secretary-general supporting Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.
After Israel's victory in the Six-Day War against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in June of 1967, she assisted the merge of the Mapai party with two dissident parties into the Israeli Labor Party.
FIRST FEMALE PRIME MINISTER
Following the unexpected death of Levi Eshkol in 1969, she had to put off her wishes of retirement again and had to replace him. Soon after, her party won the elections, making her the fourth Prime minister of Israel's state, and the first woman to be in such a role.
She maintained a coalition government that had come out in June 1967, pressing for a peace agreement in the Middle East by diplomatic means. An extensive traveler, she was able to gain economic support and military assistance from the United States.
As PM, she met with Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania in 1972, Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1973, and hosted the chancellor of West Germany. Still, her efforts to build peace with the Arab states were broken off in 1973 by the fourth Arab-Israeli outbreak, the "Yom-Kippur" War. Israel's lack of readiness and the war's negative results led to a campaign against its prime minister. Anyhow, she next came back and won the 1974 elections.
Golda Meir formed a new coalition government, but drained and ill, she shortly afterward resigned, remaining in the government until forming the new government. Yitzhak Rabin succeeded her.
RETIREMENT, LATE LIFE & DEATH
For the final years of her life, she retired to live in a kibbutz with her daughter, yet she remained a prominent political figure.
In 1975, her autobiography was published, and only after her death, the information that she had leukemia for the previous 12 years was disclosed.
On December 12, 1978, Golda, was buried at Mount Herzl in beautiful Jerusalem.