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Meir, Golda (née Mabovitch; 1898-1978)

Israel prime minister and labor leader, was born in Kiev, Russia, where her father was a poor carpenter.

Golda returned to Russia 50 years later as Israel's first minister to Moscow, and was received by thousands of Jews who came to the Moscow Great Synagogue to meet her.

Extreme poverty caused Golda's family to emigrate to the United States in 1906 and settle in Milwaukee, where she later studied in the Normal School for Teachers. Childhood memories of Russian pogroms influenced Golda in becoming a Zionist. Being a socialist as well, she settled in Palestine in 1921 with her husband Morris Myerson, joining kibbutz Merhavyah. Although Golda Meir quickly adjusted to the hard conditions of kibbutz life, she soon became involved in political and social activities that took her away from the kibbutz.

In 1928 she became the executive secretary of Mo'ezet ha-Po'alot (women's labor union) and was sent as an emissary to the Pioneer Women's Organization in the United States from 1932--1934. On her return to Palestine in 1934, she joined the executive committee of the Histadrut (Israellabor union) and later became head of the political department of the Histadrut, a job which helped train her for her eventual role as leading statesman of Israel. In the 1940s, Golda Meir was a major figure during the struggle and difficult negotiations with the British mandatory government.

She took Moshe Sharett's place in 1946 as head of the political department of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem until the establishment of the State in 1948. After that she was appointed minister to Moscow, a post she held until April 1949.

After being elected in 1949 to the Knesset as a Mapai party member, Golda Meir was appointed minister of labor. She began large scale housing and road building programs, and supported a policy of unrestricted immigration.

In 1956 she became foreign minister of Israel and held the post until 1965. As one of the few women to hold so high an office, Golda Meir became a famous international figure. Among her main achievements in foreign relations was extension of Israel aid to African nations. On her retirement from the foreign ministry, she became secretary-general of Mapai.

After the death of Levi Eshkol on February 26, 1969, Golda Meir became the fourth prime minister of Israel. As prime minister she encouraged the emigration of thousands of Soviet Jews to Israel, and strengthened relations with the United States.

Disaster overtook her administration on Yom Kippur, 1973 when Egypt and Syria caught Israel's defenses off guard in a coordinated surprise attack. Following bitter recriminations, Mrs. Meir submitted her resignation and that of her government on April 11, 1974. She continued as head of the caretaker government which successfully negotiated a disengagement of forces agreement with Syria (following an earlier one with Egypt), until the appointment of a new government under Yizhak Rabin on June 3. She then resigned her seat in the Knesset and retired into private life.


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