Episode #4 of the course “Incredible female leaders through history”
Born to a poor Jewish family in the Russian empire in 1898, Golda grew up to be the first female prime minister of the newly-established country of Israel. An experienced foreign minister and international diplomatic leader, Meir was integral in changing the face of international policy in the 20th century.
After moving to the US as a child, Meir graduated valedictorian from high school and studied Zionist principles as a teenager. She married in 1917, and afterward she and her husband Morris Meyerson moved to a commune in Palestine, where Meir was immediately recognized as a natural leader. She enjoyed the hard, simple farm life, working with her hands; it was a love that would endure her entire life. In 1928, she entered a career in politics in Jerusalem and quickly became an invaluable leader and diplomat.
Throughout the 1930s, Meir was involved in Palestinian politics, serving as an observer at the important Evian Conference. She was involved in trade union, welfare, and immigration policy establishment and remained a Zionist political activist throughout the 1940s. Most famously, in 1946 she acted as political head of the Jewish Department while Moshe Sharett was imprisoned, which placed her in a position to negotiate important diplomacy between Palestine and Britain.
At the establishment of Israel at the end of World War II, Golda Meir was personally responsible for traveling to the United States and raising money for the government treasury. She also secretly traveled to Jordan to plead for a peaceful establishment of the new country. Golda Meir was one of only two women to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. She went on to serve as labor minister, foreign minister, and prime minister, finally resigning from politics in 1974. Meir died in 1978 from lymphatic cancer.
“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
“It is true we have won all our wars, but we have paid for them. We don’t want victories anymore.”
“Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!”
“To be or not to be is not a question of compromise. Either you be or you don’t be.”
“What person with any sense likes himself? I know myself too well to like myself.”
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