Esor Ben-Sorek
Esor Ben-Sorek

The Golden Years of Golda

Golda (Meyerson) Meir was our 4th Prime Minister and the first and only woman to hold that position from 1969-1974.

She, together with our first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, was the strength of the Mapai (later the. Labor) party.

In 1948, immediately following our independence, Golda became Israel’s first ambassador to the Soviet Union. Her presence in Moscow must have angered Josef Stalin when she attended Rosh Hashanah services in the Moscow Choral synagogue surrounded by more than 50,000 Soviet Jews eager to see her.

Earlier, on May 10, 1948 (4 days before our independence), Golda dressed herself in the disguise of an Arab woman and travelled to Amman for a secret meeting with King Abdullah I of Trans-Jordan to urge him not to join with other Arab countries in attacking Israel.

King Abdullah I suggested to her that the Jews should not be in a hurry to declare a national state.

Golda’s reply was “Your Majesty, we Jews have been waiting for two thousand years to re-establish ourselves in our ancient homeland. Do you call two thousand years “hurrying” ?

Golda was one of twenty-four people who signed our Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. It is reported that after she signed she wept tears of great joy.

From that historic day until her death, the chain-smoking Golda served our country in many distinguished posts.

She was appointed our first Minister of Labor and served from 1949-1956 and was then elevated to the important position of Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1956-1966. In that capacity she met with rulers and leaders of many countries and was welcomed by them with much respect.

Her appeal to the American president Richard Nixon aided Israel in receiving military materials from America in time of war.

In 1969 she made history by becoming Israel’s first (and only) female Prime Minister and is regarded as one of the best persons to hold that illustrious post. She looked like a woman but she spoke like a man.

In 1973 it was rumored that Egypt was planning a full-scale attack on Israel . Intelligence reports varied and Prime Minister Golda Meir was faced with her most difficult crisis.

She consulted for several days with her chief of staff of the IDF, with generals and with her trusted friend Moshe Dayan.

While Elazar suggested that Israel should make a pre-emptive strike on Egypt, Dayan opposed it. Golda took Dayan’s advice and refrained from any attack on Egypt.

Her decision, based upon Dayan’s recommendation, became a national tragedy for Israel. We were attacked on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, when most people including our army and air force personnel would be praying in synagogues.

The Yom Kippur war cost thousands of Israeli lives and Golda blamed herself for not making the first strike on Egypt.

In depression and despair, she resigned as Prime Minister in 1974.

Three years later, in 1977, Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, sought to make peace with Israel. To her surprise and to the wonderment of the entire world, president Sadat flew to Israel where he was given a cordial welcome.

After his address to the Knesset, Golda welcomed him and extended her hand to him and congratulated him on his brave venture to Israel in the name of peace.

He is said to have replied to her, “Madam Meir, you are one of the bravest men I know”.

Golda lived through the birth of our nation and watched it grow into a major power in our part of the world. Her death on 8 December 1978 was an irreplaceable loss for the State of Israel.

Perhaps, what we really need in these very difficult days is another female Prime Minister.

Another like Golda would restore honor, glory and dignity to our present divided country.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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