Essay: Golda Meir's Multinational Upbringing

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Golda Meir's multinational upbringing, along with her visionary spirit, made her one of the most influential leaders in the twentieth century.

To explore this amazing woman's life, this paper will look at:

Biographical overview of Meir's early life

Meir's political life iii. A comparison of Meir and other historical female leaders

The contrast Meir served against the repressive Arab culture towards women

Biographical Overview of Golda Meir's Early Life

Childhood growing up with oppression and discrimination in Russia developed strength and coping mechanisms for adversity

Threat of attacks from the soldiers of the czar

Immigration to the United States

Early leader for social causes and involvement in Zionist movement

Immigration to Palestine

Beginnings of political involvement via the kibbutz

Meir's Political Life

A. Meir's involvement in Jewish Agency

B. Meir's fundraising efforts for the War of Independence

C. Meir's efforts to promote a peaceful establishment of the State of Israel

D. Meir's role as Prime Minister

E. The Yom Kippur War and Meir's resignation

IV. Meir Compared with Historical Female Leaders

A. Similarities between Meir and other historical female leaders

i. Elizabeth I

ii. Catherine the Great iii. Margaret Thatcher

Meir Contrasted with the Repressive Arab Culture in Regards to Women

A. Arab culture is generally oppressive of females

B. This anti-feminist stance is due to two primary reasons:

i. The interpretation of the Islamic faith

ii. Colonial feminism used hypocritically by the West and Zion for political purposes

C. Meir offers challenges to both of these cultural concepts.

VI. Summary

A. Meir's early childhood prepared her for her political life

B. Knowing firsthand of the discrimination and oppression of the Jewish people in Russia, she wanted to ensure there was a Jewish homeland.

C. Her efforts were critical in securing the State of Israel.

D. Despite being female and Jewish, Meir was able to be instrumental in the successful establishment of the independent nation of Israel.

References

Minogue, Kenneth. "Democracy & Political Naivete." New Criterion 24.7 (2006): 4-8. Print.

Minogue discusses what he sees as the problem with democracy -- the naivete of the general populace. Most relevant to this paper, Minogue describes several historical female leaders. Regarding Queen Elizabeth I, he notes that she was a highly successful ruler. "She knew when to be decisive and she did not seek to do more in controlling her subjects than to keep the peace. She did not want to 'make windows in men's souls'" (6). Catherine the Great was a similarly successful female leader for both war craft and statecraft. Meir is compared to both these historical leaders, with Minogue describing her as a "notably smart politician (...who overcame) male prejudice" (7). Minogue concludes that is interesting that feminists seldom see these powerful female figures as role models.

Medzini, Meron. "Israel's Midwife: Golda Meir in the Closing Years of the British Mandate." Israel Affairs 14.3 (2008): 374-397. Print.

Medzini discusses Meir's involvement in the formation of the State of Israel. As Medzini notes, Meir was "one of the key decision-makers in the Yishuv" (374). Not only were her efforts a critical factor in the creation of legislation for Yishuv residents, but she also was instrumental in raising money to finance the War of Independence. Meir had been active in politics early in the events that served as a catalyst to Israel's independence. As a member of the Jewish Agency that carried out a policy of active resistance to force Britain to open the doors for unlimited Jewish immigration for Holocaust survivors, it became clear early on that Meir's commitment to Israel would not waiver. However, Medzini returns to the importance of Meir's fundraising that truly made the State of Israel possible. He notes,

She will be remembered, however, for the money she raised and the mobilization of American Jewry to provide the funds that enabled Israel to fight the longest war in its history. Golda raised some U.S.$90 million during her two missions to America. This amount represented a third of the cost of a war estimated at some U.S.$275 million. On the basis of this achievement alone, it is hard to argue with Ben-Gurion, who years later said: 'When history will be written, it will be said that it was a Jewish woman who obtained the funds that made the state possible' (396).

"Golda Meir." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. .

This encyclopedic article overviews the life of Golda Meir as the founder and fourth prime minister of the State of Israel. Meir was born in Kiev, in 1898. When she was eight years old, her family emigrated to Wisconsin. Meir attended the Milwaukee Normal School (which later become the University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee) and became a leader in the Milwaukee Labor Zionist Party. In 1921, Meir and her husband emigrated to Palestine, where she became the kibbutz's representative to the General Federation of Labor and the secretary of the Women's Labor Council. In addition to this brief overview of Meir's early life, it also discusses briefly the end of the forging of peace Meir had worked hard to accomplish with the Arab states. In October of 1973, the Yom Kippur War showed that Israel was unprepared for this type of military action. Following, "Meir formed a new coalition government only with great difficulty in March 1974 and resigned her post as prime minister on April 10th."

Martin, Patricia. "Golda Meir." Golda Meir (2005): 1-3. Print.

Martin also details Meir's early life, from her childhood in czarist Russia to her immigration to the United States, to her early political career in what would become the State of Israel. Although her father was a carpenter, when Meir was a child, her family was poor. Because of their religious faith, the family was subjected to persecution and discrimination in Russia, which eventually led to their move to the United States. As a school girl, Martin notes Meir's early activism activities. "She organized a group called the American Young Sister Society to raise money for classmates who could not afford to pay for their schoolbooks" (1). Martin also describes Meir's early life on the kibbutz as including more menial tasks than the political maneuverings many immediately describe. Her first tasks on the kibbutz included "baking bread, managing the chicken houses, and picking almonds. Through her hard work, she earned the respect of the other members of the kibbutz and was chosen as their delegate to the Histadrut, a labor federation that oversaw the activities of the trade unions and kibbutzim in Palestine" (2).

Axelrod-Contrada, J. "Golda Meir Israeli Pioneer and Prime Minister." Women Who Led Nations (1999): 14-31. Print.

Axelrod-Contrada begins the article on Meir with a description of her secret mission to Jordan, in 1948. Disguised as an Arab, she snuck across the Jordanian border to meet with King Abdullah, in an effort to persuade him to accept a new nation for Jewish people. However, Abdullah had been pressured by other Arab nations to oppose a Jewish state. The mission failed and Jordan sided with the Arab opposition to Israel; however Meir was still committed to not only creating a Jewish homeland, but that it could also exist peacefully with their Arab neighbors. According to Axelrod-Contrada, Meir's strength came from her Russian heritage, as Jews in Russia had to have the strength to cope with the discrimination they faced, which included soldiers of the czar sometimes riding through poor Jewish villages on horseback, murdering and pillaging villagers.

AbuKhalil, as'ad. "Toward the Study of Women and Politics in the Arab World: The Debate and the Reality." Feminist Issues. 13.1 (1993): 3-22. Print.

AbuKhalil's article helps describe how contrary Meir's life and position of power was to the Arab nations that were opposed to the formation of the State of Israel. Although the conditions of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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