Episode 97: Golda Reconsidered

Golda Meir is known as Israel's "Iron Lady": gruff, chain-smoking, and fiercely ambitious. In the eyes of many, she was also responsible for the Yom Kippur War, which cost thousands of lives. But Golda's story is far more complex.

In this episode of Can We Talk?, as we approach 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, we go beyond the caricatures and talk about aspects of Golda's career that are often overlooked: the ways she helped build the fledgling state of Israel, her relationship with Israel’s Mizrahim, and her complicated attitude toward feminism. We speak with Guy Nattiv, director of the new film Golda, starring Helen Mirren, and with author Francine Klagsbrun, whose biography of Golda, Lioness, came out in 2017. 

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Released September 12, 2023
  • Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir sits the Oval Office during a meeting with U.S. President Richard Nixon, March 1, 1973.

    Courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.

  • Golda Meir speaks at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Histadrut, 1969. 

    Photographer: Israel Press and Photo Agency (I.P.P.A.) / Dan Hadani collectionNational Library of Israel / CC BY 4.0, obtained via Wikimedia Commons

  • During the 1970s, Golda Meir (1898 – 1978) was voted the Most Admired Woman in America at the same time as she was American feminism's poster girl, the face above the caption "But Can She Type?" In reality, however, she never used her position to advance the cause of women's rights and equality in Israeli society.

    Institution: U.S. Library of Congress.

  • Helen Mirren in Bleecker Street's GOLDA. Credit: Jasper Wolf, courtesy of Bleecker Street. 

  • Helen Mirren and Liev Schreiber in Bleecker Street's GOLDA. Credit: Jasper Wolf, Courtesy of Bleecker Street

  • Francine Klagsbrun. Credit: Joan Roth. 

  • Cover of Francine Klagsbrun’s 2017 biography of Golda Meir, which won the National Jewish Book Award.

  • Golda Meir, March 1, 1973
  • Golda Meir speaks at a podium at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Histadrut
  • Golda Meir on "But Can She Type?"
  • Helen Mirren playing Golda Meir; standing wearing dark shirt, skirt and gray hair pulled back, looking thoughtful
  • Helen Mirren as Golda Meir and Liev Schreiber as Henry Kissinger in Golda film. They are seated at a kitchen table, across from each other, and Golda is smoking a cigarette.
  • Francine Klagsbrun Headshot
  • Lioness: A Biography of Golda Meir
  • Black-and-white photo of man with short hair and glasses with hand on chin


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Episode 97: Golda Reconsidered." (Viewed on February 25, 2024) <http://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk/episode-97-golda-reconsidered>.