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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Golda Meir

b. 1898, Kiev; d. 1978, Jerusalem

Golda Meir served from 1969 to 1974 as the first and only female prime minister of Israel, after having held cabinet posts in the newly formed country from 1949 to 1966. Her interest in zionism began early on, after her family emigrated from the Ukraine to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1906. She and her husband, Morris Myerson, left Milwaukee for Palestine in 1921, where she joined the labor movement. During World War II, Meir represented the interests of the zionists in negotiations with the British and in 1946 replaced the head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency when the British imprisoned a number of Jewish activists. As minister of labor from 1949 to 1956, Meir oversaw the construction of roads and homes. She was appointed foreign minister in 1956, a position she would hold until she retired in 1966 to bolster the Labor Party. With the death of Levi Eshkol, Meir became prime minister. She used diplomacy to negotiate peace in the Middle East but at the same time refused to stop building Israeli settlements in Palestine, even after the passage of UN resolutions demanding withdrawal. In 1974, she was forced to resign after the country suffered thousands of casualties in the Arab-Israeli War. A year later, Meir published her autobiography, My Life.