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MEIR, GOLDA (1898-1979).

Labor Zionist leader and Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974. She was born Gold Mabowitz to a carpenter in Kiev, Russia. The Mabowitz family came to the U.S. in 1906 and settled in Milwaukee where Meir grew up and taught school. A Zionist since youth, she married Morris Myerson on the condition that they go to Palestine to settle as pioneers. Arriving in Palestine in 1921, they joined the kibbutz Merhavia, where Golda Myerson trained to become its specialist in poultry raising.

Her public career began with her work as secretary of the Women’s Labor Council. This work involved her in shuttling between Palestine and the U.S., and developed her remarkable skill as administrator, organizer, propagandist, and fund-raiser. These abilities were recognized by the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labor in Palestine, and Myerson was appointed to its executive committee. She served the Histadrut ably in a variety of executive posts, heading the Workers’ Sick Fund and organizing the unemployment insurance system by persuading the workers to tax themselves for this purpose. Her versatility enabled her to raise single-handedly the capital to finance Nachshon, the Histadrut harbor installations in Tel Aviv. In retaliation for resistance to its immigration policy, the British arrested the top leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine on June 29, 1946. Myerson replaced the imprisoned Moshe Sharett as head of the Jewish Agency Political Department.

She was one of two women who signed Israel’s Declaration of Independence in May 1948 and became Israel’s first ambassador to Russia. She was enthusiastically welcomed by Russian Jews. Because of her experience in labor relations and in social insurance, she was recalled to Israel in 1949 to become Minister of Labor in Prime Minister Ben-Gurion‘s first cabinet. Myerson served in this position until 1956 when, upon the resignation of Moshe Sharett, she assumed the office of Minister for Foreign Affairs. In keeping with the established practice that foreign service officials Hebraize their names, she changed her last name to Meir. Meir was succeeded as Minister of Foreign affairs by Abba Eban in 1965.

When the Mapai, Ahdut HaAvodah, and the Rafi parties officially merged early in 1968, Meir was elected secretary general of the new party. She held this office until 1969 when she succeeded Levi Eshkol as Prime Minister of Israel. As Prime Minister she paid several official visits to the U. S. as the guest of President Richard M. Nixon. In 1974, following the Yom Kippur War, she resigned from the government, and was succeeded by Yitzhak Rabin.

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