Who was Golda Meir?

Golda Meir
Golda Meir. Getty Images

Known as the Iron Lady of Israeli politics, Golda Meir is one of the giants of Israel's history, playing major roles in the formation of the State of Israel, the modern political landscape, and so much more.

Golda Mabovitch was born in Kiev, Russia, in 1898 amidst a time of terrible pogroms, which would impact her throughout the rest of her life. 

In 1906, a flurry of economic hardships forced the family to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Golda became involved in both the Zionist and socialist movements, including Poalei Zion (Workers of Zion).

After marrying Morris Meyerson in 1921, the two moved to Palestine and joined a kibbutz. Later, in 1924, the couple moved to Jerusalem. 

Golda's political skills were recognized on the kibbutz, and in 1934 she joined the executive committee of the Histadrut Trade Union. From 1932 to 1934, she served as an emissary to the United States.

In 1946, after the British arrested the leaders of the Yishuv, a term referring to the body of Jewish residents of pre-state Israel, and Golda became the acting head of the Jewish Agency and led discussions to free the Jewish leaders.

In 1947, Golda was selected to join the top executive committee of the Jewish Agency that was responsible for preparing Israel for statehood. At the urging of David Ben-Gurion (the first prime minister of Israel, who also delivered Israel's declaration of independence) Golda Meyerson changed her last name to Meir.

With war brewing, Golda flew to the United States in January 1948 to raise money for arms.

She was tremendously successful, raising almost $50 million in her whirlwind tour.

After the founding of the State of Israel, Golda Meir served as Israel's first ambassador to the Soviet Union. In 1949, she became Israel's minister of labor, responsible for huge housing and road-building programs needed for the mass of new refugees.

In 1956, she became foreign minister of Israel and eloquently presented Israel's case at the UN after the Sinai Campaign, which saw Israel fighting to put an end to terrorist incursions into Israel and to remove the Egyptian blockade of Eilat.

In 1967, Golda succeeded in uniting Mapai (מַפָּא"י, or the Workers' Party of the Land of Israel) with two other political parties to create the Israel Labor Party. Finally, Golda became Israel's third prime minister and the world's second woman prime minister on February 26, 1969.

Golda Meir resigned on April 11, 1974, after the Yom Kippur War, which saw highly coordinated Egyptian and Syrian assaults against Israel on October 6, 1973. Although her party won the next election, she resigned in favor of Yitzhak Rabin

Golda died on December 8, 1978, and is buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.