A direct, no-nonsense politician who participated in Israel’s governance from its independence onward, Golda Meir served as Israel’s first female Prime Minister through the turbulent period of the Yom Kippur War. Meir’s early passion for Labor Zionism drove her to make Aliyah and join a kibbutz in 1921. She became secretary of Histradut’s Mo’etzet ha-Po’alot, the Women Workers Council, and later head of Histradut’s political department. During World War II, when male leadership of the Jewish Agency was arrested for smuggling refugees, she became the agency’s acting head. In 1948, she was one of 24 signatories to the Declaration of Independence, and became ambassador to the Soviet Union. In 1949, she was elected to the Knesset and became Minister of Labor, in charge of finding jobs and housing for 700,000 immigrants, before becoming Foreign Minister in 1956 and Prime Minister in 1969. In 1973, she received reports of potential Arab attacks and debated calling up the reserves, but accepted her advisors’ opinions that they had more time to prepare. While Israel was able to regain the offensive after the attacks, the massive casualties of the Yom Kippur War were seen as Meir’s failure, and she resigned from office in 1974. However, over time her accomplishments as a stateswoman have been recognized again.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Golda Meir." (Viewed on January 15, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/meir-golda>.