Golda Meir - Israeli Politician

Golda Meir - Israeli Politician
Golda Meir - Israeli Politician
Known for most of her life as Goldie Mabovitch, Golda Meir spent her formative years in Kiev, Ukraine, where pogroms and anti-Semitism plagued her life. Golda’s only memories of this time were of being afraid, hungry, and cold.

Tired of their lives in Kiev, the Mabovitch family moved to Byelorussia in 1903 and then to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1906. Upon graduation as valedictorian from junior high school, Meir pleaded with her parents to allow her to attend high school and become a teacher.

At 14 she ran away from home to live with her sister in Denver. She attended high school and worked at a restaurant, where she overheard debates about Zionism, anarchism, socialism, and suffrage. Meir met Morris Meirson in 1915, and they moved back to Wisconsin so she could finish high school.

With her parents’ support she enrolled in Wisconsin’s normal school for teaching in 1916 and taught Yiddish the following year. Meir and Meirsen married in 1917, and she began working with the Poalei Tzion movement.

Meir and Morris then moved to Palestine. Their first child was born in 1924. That same year Meir was elected as an officer of Histadrut, where she met influential Zionists including David Ben-Gurion, with whom she would be professionally connected for much of her career. She was elected secretary of the Women’s Labor Council in 1928 and separated from her husband; however, they never officially divorced.

Meir helped found Mapai, Israel’s major labor party, which led every coalition government for the first three decades of its existence. In the mid-1930s Meir was elected to the executive board of Histadrut, became the fundraiser for the Jewish Agency, and was elected as the head of the agency’s Political Department.

Following Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, Ben-Gurion appointed Meir as Israel’s ambassador to the Soviet Union. Unhappy to leave the newly established Israel, she returned and was appointed minister of labor and national insurance, in which post she remained until 1956.

She adopted the Hebrew name Golda Meir. As foreign minister from 1956 to 1966, she attempted to build bridges with the emerging independent countries in Africa via an assistance program based on Israel’s nation-building experience.

Diagnosed with cancer in 1963, Meir retired from the Knesset; however, her retirement was short-lived. Supportive of the Mapai Party merger and multiparty alignment, she was elected secretary general of the coalition in 1966. When Prime Minister Eshkol died in 1969, Golda Meir became the world’s third female prime minister.

Combining idealism and practicality, Meir led a full professional and personal life. She dedicated her career to leading Israel’s struggle in survival and peace. Both of these objectives were thwarted when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel during Yom Kippur in 1973.

Meir was blamed for overestimating the strength of the Israel Defense Forces and misjudging the surrounding Arab countries’ intentions. In 1974 she resigned and during the following four years worked on her autobiography and spent time with her family until her death in 1978.