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Golda Meir: The Israeli Iron Lady

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Abstract

What turns a girl from a poor family into a prime minister and leader? What causes a young woman to leave her comfortable parents’ home in the United States and emigrate to a foreign country? How did a young wife get ahead in the local administration without any agricultural knowledge and language skills? And what made a young mother leave her small children for days and weeks on end to go on overseas trips on behalf of a country that hadn’t yet been founded? Golda Meir, Israel’s first and only female prime minister to date, came a very long way from her humble childhood in the Russian Empire to her later childhood and young adulthood in Milwaukee, her emigration to Kibbutz Merhavia, and her appointment to the highest positions of foreign minister and prime minister.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Meron Medzini. Golda: Political Biography (Tel Aviv: Yedioth Ahronoth and Hemed Books, 2008), pp. 25–34; Gold Meir, My Life (Tel Aviv: Sifriyat Maariv, 1975), pp. 20–31.

  2. 2.

    Ibid., p. 12; Rafael, Lo Zachiti [in Hebrew], p. 121; Meir, My Father’s Home (Jerusalem: HaKibbutz HaMeuhad, 1972), p. 81.

  3. 3.

    Meir, My Life, pp. 73–91; Goldstein, Y. (2012). Golda Biography [in Hebrew] (Beer Sheva: University of the Negev), pp. 71–87; Tzoref, H. et al. (Eds.), Golda Meir: The Fourth Prime Minister, Selected Documents and Introductions from her Lifetime [in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: National Archives, 2016); Elinor Burkett. Golda (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008), pp. 93–96.

  4. 4.

    Medzini, Golda, p. 45.

  5. 5.

    Meir, My Life, pp. 110–121.

  6. 6.

    Meir, My Life, pp. 42–53.

  7. 7.

    Meir, My Life, pp. 84–86.

  8. 8.

    Medzini, Golda, pp. 62–68.Morris was 57 when he died.

  9. 9.

    Medzini, Golda, pp. 70–75; Meir, My Life, pp. 84–86; Hazan, “Golda Meir: A Leader on the Throne of the Party Secretariat” [in Hebrew], pp. 249–278; Witz, “Golda is not just a default,”Haaretz, June 6, 2016.

  10. 10.

    David Remez served as Secretary General of the Histadrut, Minister of Transport, Minister of Education, and as a Member of Knesset.

  11. 11.

    Zalman Shazar served as the first Minister of Education and Culture in the Israeli government, and as the country’s third president.

  12. 12.

    Meir, My Life, pp. 102–120; Lieberman, “The Golda Touch,” May 18, 2016.

  13. 13.

    Meir, My Life, p. 84.

  14. 14.

    Fifth wave of immigration 1930–1939. Most of the immigrants came from Europe, mainly Germany. The illegal immigration that contradicted the laws of the “white book,” which the British instituted in Israel. 250,000 immigrants managed to escape the clutches of the war, ending in September 1939.

  15. 15.

    Sagi, p. 131.

  16. 16.

    The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, UN Resolution 181, adopted on November 29, 1947, calls for the region of Palestine to be divided into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jewish state accepted the resolution while the Arab League refused. The day after it was announced, the first stage of the War of Independence broke out. The second stage of the war erupted after the establishment of the state was declared on May 14, 1948.

  17. 17.

    Koestler, A. Promise and Fulfillment Eretz Israel 1917–1949 [in Hebrew], (Tel Aviv: Achiasaf, 1949), p. 145.

  18. 18.

    Medzini, Golda, pp. 210–211; Meir, My Life, pp. 179–186; Witz, “Golda is not just a default,” 2016; Lou Keidar, “On a mission to the silent Judaism: Lou Keidar’s testimony,” interviewer Drora Beit Or, Golda Memorial Site, date accessed April 15, 2018. www.goldameir.org.il/index.php?dir=site&page=content&cs=73&langpage=heb.

  19. 19.

    The transit camps were interim housing for immigrants in the early 1950s, consisting of tin shacks without running water or ventilation.

  20. 20.

    Medzini, Golda, pp. 228–229; Meir, My Life, pp. 87–188; Avizohar, M. (1994). Golda, The Growth of a Leader [in Hebrew] (1921–1956), (Ed.), (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, and the Golda Meir Institute for the Study of Labor and Society, 1994); Witz, “Golda is not just a default,” 2016.

  21. 21.

    Meir, My Life, p. 148; Medzini, Golda, p. 286.

  22. 22.

    Mapa’i was the Mifleget Poaley Eretz Israel, literally meaning The Workers’ Party of the Land of Israel. The party was established by the merger of three parties in 1965. In 1968, it became the Israeli Labor Party; The Knesset website, date accessed August 21, 2018. https://main.knesset.gov.il/mk/Pages/MKPub.aspx?MKID=685; Lidmar Harry, “Profile of the Foreign Minister,” Golda Meir commemoration site, date accessed August 21, 2018. www.goldameir.org.il/index.php?dir=site&page=content&cs=221&langpage=heb.

  23. 23.

    Meir, My Life, pp. 212–213; Yehudit Simchonit, “Gold and African Countries”, Golda Meir commemoration site, date accessed August 21, 2018. www.goldameir.org.il/index.php?dir=site&page=content&cs=255&langpage=heb; Hanan Einor, “The African Challenge” [in Hebrew], Golda Meir commemoration site, date accessed August 21, 2018. www.goldameir.org.il/index.php?dir=site&page=content&cs=241&langpage=heb.

  24. 24.

    Bar Zohar, M. Ben Gurion (Tel Aviv: Am Oved. Bar Zohar), pp. 1156–1157; Dayan, Milestones [in Hebrew], pp. 160–168; Tzur, Y. Paris Journal: The Diplomatic Campaign in France 1953–1956 [in Hebrew], (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1968), pp. 271–274; Golani, Tihiyeh Milchama HaKaitz, pp. 141–158; Peres, S. (1970). David’s Sling (Tel Aviv: Weidenfeld, 1970), p. 160; Meir, My Life, pp. 171–178; Tzoref, Golda Meir, p. 197.

  25. 25.

    Ibid., pp. 215–261; Tzur, Yoman Paris [in Hebrew], pp. 295–296; Medzini, Golda, pp. 286–318.

  26. 26.

    The Six-Day War took place between June 5 and 10, 1967.

  27. 27.

    Meir, My Life, p. 264.

  28. 28.

    Medzini, Golda, pp. 421–430; Tzoref, Golda Meir, pp. 271–288.Golda Meir Chronology 1956–1966, Golda Meir commemoration site, date accessed August 28, 2019. www.golda.gov.il/archive/home/he/100/show_bio4.html.

  29. 29.

    Despite this statement, the UN adopted Resolutions 224, 338.

  30. 30.

    “The Territories – Summary discussion, political situational assessment,” 7028/1 A, 18.4.1968, National Archives.“Political Commentary and Chronology for February 1969,” RG, 5/3/1969; Ibid., “Memorandum for the President from H. Kissinger”; Ibid., “Yediot Aharonot Report Comments on Current Internal Issues”; Ibid., “Allon Tests Strength”; Ibid., “Recommendation that Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Alon” “Suggested Position to make with Israeli Prime Minister Meir.”

  31. 31.

    Suggestions for handling the population in the territories have been made since the end of the war and to date.

  32. 32.

    To date, also the only one in this position.

  33. 33.

    “Sixth Government Meetings, Seat C, 3/68,” 168/9 K, National Archives.

  34. 34.

    Ibid.

  35. 35.

    Palestinian terrorist organizations cropped up in Jordan and operated from its territory. The PLO was chosen to represent the Palestinians, and its main goal was to fight Israel until it was destroyed. The PLO was headquartered in Jordan, where it operated against the Israeli and Jordanian governments. The IDF bombed its headquarters in coordination with Jordan. The Black September organization was established.

  36. 36.

    Its name came from the Egyptians’ desire to exhaust Israel and retrieve the territories that were captured during the Six-Day War.

  37. 37.

    The war caused a heated debate in Israel over the fact that a difficult war was being waged in the South while life carried on as normal in the center of the country. High school students sent Golda letters expressing their reservations about her policy.

  38. 38.

    Meir, Shalom ben Shavim [in Hebrew], pp. 9–10; Meir, My Life, pp. 276–280; Rubinovitz, Z. (2010). “Blue and White “Black September”: Israel’s Role in the Jordan Crisis of 1970,” The International History Review, (Vol. 32, No. 4, December): pp. 687–706; “Fedayeen,” August 31, 1974.

  39. 39.

    In May 1972, a Sabena plane was hijacked and landed at Lod airport. Massacres were carried out at Ben Gurion airport and letter bombs were sent. Two terrorist attacks on Kiryat Shmona.

  40. 40.

    Meir, My Life, pp. 276–280.

  41. 41.

    “Relations with Jordan,” “Prime Minister’s Announcement in the Knesset,” 16.3.1972, 7033/6 A, National Archives; Ibid., “Hussein’s Visit,” 28.3.1972; Ibid., “Hussein,” 2.4.1972; HATZAV, Jordan’s Non-Participation in the Yom Kippur War,” 11-1954/1997, IDF and Defense System Archives; Shlaim, pp. 314–320; Marwan’s code name in Israel was “Babylon.”Zamir, pp. 126–133; Medzini, pp. 518–521; Bergman, Meltzer, pp. 177–190; Meir, My Life, pp. 305–328.

  42. 42.

    Meir, My Life, p. 305.

  43. 43.

    Ibid., pp. 305–328.

  44. 44.

    Meir, My Father’s Home, pp. 81–85.

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Katav, O.M. (2020). Golda Meir: The Israeli Iron Lady. In: Shabliy, E., Kurochkin, D., Ayee, G. (eds) Global Perspectives on Women’s Leadership and Gender (In)Equality . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-41822-9_7

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