Born Golda Mabovitz in Kiev, Russia, Golda emigrated with her family to Milwaukee, Wis., in 1906. There, she graduated from teachers' college and taught in the public schools.
She joined the Poalei Zion (Labor Zionist Organization) in 1915 and emigrated to Palestine with her husband, Morris Myerson, in 1921. He died in 1951. She adopted the Hebrew name Meir (``to burn brightly'') in 1956.
Throughout her life she was a leading socialist Zionist. She was elected to the woman's labor council of Histadrut in 1928 and was chosen secretary of Histadrut's executive committee in 1934. In the 1930's she was also an international Zionist representative, and as such spent a year in the United States in 1932. In 1946 she became president of the political bureau of the Jewish Agency.
After 1948 she was Israel' s minister to Moscow, labor minister, and, from 1956 to 1966, foreign minister. She became secretary general of Mapai (Israeli Workers Party) in 1966 and when Mapai became part of the Israel Labor Party was chosen its secretary.
On the death of Levi Eshkol in 1969, the party factions, in a compromise, chose her as prime minister.
Golda Meir's main problems as prime minister concerned the Arab territories occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967. The right wing of her party, led by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, wanted Israel to colonize and then incorporate them.
Moderates, led by deputy prime minister Yigal Allon, were willing, as part of a peace settlement, to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria and to permit the west bank of the Jordan to become an autonomous part of the kingdom of Jordan. Although Meir generally sided with Dayan, she retained the support of moderates. However, in 1973 and 1974 disputes over the blame for Israel's unpreparedness for the Yom Kippur War led to demands for new leadership and increased the divisions in the Labor Party.
Although Meir was able to form a government following elections in December 1973, she could not get her cabinet to agree on policies; she resigned in April 1974. She died in Jerusalem on Dec. 8, 1978.
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