Meir, Golda (Golda Myerson, Born Mabovitch; 1898–1978)

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MEIR, GOLDA (Golda Myerson, born Mabovitch; 1898–1978)

Israeli political figure, born in Kiev in 1898, died in Jerusalem in 1978. Having been a refugee in the United States since 1906, Golda Meir emigrated to Palestine in 1921, where she was active in union organizations. Rapidly, with David Ben-Gurion, she became one of the leaders of the MAPAI labor party and of the Histadrut union, directing its women's section. In 1934 she was elected secretary of the executive committee of Histadrut. In 1946 she was interim chairwoman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. In 1947, following the United Nations decision on the partition of Palestine (Resolution 181), she went to New York to collect funds for arms for the Haganah. In 1948, as a member of the provisional government, she was the first ambassador of Israel to the USSR after the proclamation of the Jewish state.

From 1949 to 1956 Meir was minister of labor and social affairs in the governments of David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett. In 1955, in the municipal

elections, she led the MAPAI list to victory in Tel Aviv. Nevertheless, religious groups opposed her becoming mayor of the city. From June 1956 to January 1966, she was foreign minister in the governments of Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol. For ten years she advocated an intransigent foreign policy, in particular toward Arab countries. In February 1966 she was elected secretary general of MAPAI. In 1968 she participated in the creation of the Israel Labor Party (ILP), which came out of the merger of MAPAI with RAFI and Ahdut ha-Avoda Poʿalei Zion.

The following year, in February 1969, after the death of Levi Eshkol, she became prime minister. During her tenure (1969–1974), she was confronted with three important crises: the breakup of the national unity coalition, when the Israeli government accepted to consider withdrawal from the Occupied Territories; the tragedy of the assassination of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972; and the October ("Yom Kippur") 1973 War. In spite of the victory of Labor in the Knesset elections of December 1973, Meir was unable to withstand accusations that she bore overall responsibility for that war, which caught Israel by surprise and resulted in heavy losses. She was therefore obliged, on 10 April 1974, to resign her post of prime minister; she was replaced by Yitzhak Rabin.

SEE ALSO Ahdut ha-Avoda; Arab-Israel War (1973); Eshkol, Levi; Haganah; Histadrut; Jewish Agency for Israel; MAPAI; Munich; RAFI Party; Resolution 181; Rabin, Yitzhak.