Golda Meir: The Iron Lady

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Golda Meir the “Iron Lady” (Butt) is described as being on of the most influential women of the twentieth century. Her influence can still be seen, “She is still deeply loved today by her people and by millions more thought the world” (WIC). Her ability to be “committed to her land and to her people was the paragon of human dedication” (Butt) is remarkable. Golda’s childhood, tenacity, and hunger for knowledge helped prepare her for her many roles in the Israeli government.
Golda Meir was born in Kiev, Russia on May 3, 1898. After living in Russia for eight years, she then moved with her family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1906. When she had lived in the United States for several years, she desperately wanted to attend high school. Golda’s parents refused to let her attend because they wanted their young daughter to marry. In response she decided to run away to Denver and live with her sister. While in Denver Golda attended high school, but had to work to help support herself. After living in Denver for a few months, Golda and her sister stopped getting along well. Because of this Golda decided to move out of her sister’s home, drop out of school, and work several jobs to sustain herself. Golda moved back to Milwaukee to live with parents after they agreed to let her attend high school. She finished high school in less than two years, and attended the Milwaukee Normal School for Teachers. At this time, she became an active member of the Zionist Labor Movement in the Midwest.
Golda got married and moved to Tel Aviv which was located in Palestine at that time. Golda then had two children and moved to Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem she became secretary of the Women’s Labor council and later became the executive to the committee of the Histandrut. In 1940, she became the head of the Labor Federation’s Political department and represented Histradrut at the International Conference. While holding this position she negotiated the transfer of families in British internment camps in Cyprus to be moved to Palestine. She was one two women to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence. When she signed the Declaration she said, “After I signed, I cried. When I studied American history as a schoolgirl and I read about those who signed the Declaration of Independence, I couldn't imagine these were real people doing something real. And there I was sitting down and signing a declaration of establishment"(Meir). Because of the diverse backgrounds she was raised in, Golda was able to fully appreciate the enormity of this event and give it new perspective.
Once they received their independence Golda courageously became the first ambassador to Moscow, Russia. In 1949 she was elected to Knesset which is the Israeli parliament. While being in parliament she represented the Labor party. This was her favorite job because “she had the time to work for and with the people” (WIC). In the 1950s she became the minister of foreign affairs and a UN delegate. Golda developed lymphoma in 1963 which would ail for many years. She retired from all of her political offices on August 1, 1968, but was brought out of retirement in 1969 to become the Prime Minister after the Israeli Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol died.
Golda led Israel though the 1972 Olympics in Munich. This was a trying time for Israel because several of their Olympic athletes had been kidnapped and killed. One year later on October 6, 1973, Israel was attacked by Syria and Egypt. This attack is known as the Yom Kippur War. Golda was blamed for not preparing the country for the possibility of the attack, “the government was severely criticized for the fact that the country had been caught napping by its Arab enemies. Much of the blame was directed at Golda Meir”(Butt). She resigned as prime minister in 1974 after being reelected because of poor health, and died in 1978 after a 15 year struggle with cancer.
Golda had many of the traits associated with a transformational leader. A transformational leader is one who seeks their followers and “raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality” (Burns). This description is true in describing the way Golda led, “her dedication to her country and her personal concern for all people are legendary. Whatever Golda Meir did, she did for the people” (WIC). A transformational leader may engage their followers to raise their levels of higher religion. Since Israel was established to be a Jewish state, it could easily be said that her work to improve the lives of her people were examples of transformational leadership and raised them through their religious beliefs.
Meir was a good leader for Israel in a time of crisis. She was a charismatic leader who her followers were able to identify with. Charismatic leaders such as Golda tend to rise to power in a time of crisis because the people need someone to direct them. Golda was placed in power after Levi Eshkol died, and there was horrendous tension between the Israelis and neighboring Arab nations. Golda was in power for the disaster of the 1972 Olympics and the Yom Kippur War. Through both of these occurrences she was able to lead her country so strongly that her people reelected her even after being blamed for the Yom Kippur War. Her strong will, which was first visible though her demanding desire to attend high school, allowed her to be the first woman prime minister of Israel. She paved the way for future women leaders. This is a huge contribution to the world, but especially to the Middle East because their culture is potently patriarchal. The fact that Golda had the courage to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence, become the first ambassador to Moscow, and hold countless other political positions during a time when men were the vast dominant majority and Israel was a controversial state, is aw-inspiring. She was described as “being the only man in the Cabinet” (David Gurion) showing that she had a greater voice and presence than anyone else in the Cabinet.
The New York Times said that, “The miracle of Golda Meir was how one person could perfectly embody the spirit of so many.” Her ability to lead the people to their common goal while keeping a unified nation, not becoming power hungry, and always keeping what’s best for the country first, is quite an accomplishment for someone who was raised to be a teen-bride in Wisconsin.





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Amanda said...
Aug. 9, 2014 at 1:58 am
Spaces between paragraphs please would have meade this readable.
 
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