Golda Meir:

Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel on March 17, 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and

Foreign Minister. Israel's first and the world's third woman to hold such an office, she was described as the

"Iron Lady" of Israeli politics years before the epithet became associated with British prime minister

Margaret Thatcher. Former prime minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir "the best man in the

government"; she was often portrayed as the "strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of

the Jewish people."

When Golda and Morris married in 1918, settling in Palestine was her precondition for the marriage. The

couple moved to Palestine in 1921 together with her sister Shayna. Later she moved back to the U.S. to

raise needed funds for the Jewish defense.

In 1934, when Meir returned from the United States, she joined the Executive Committee of the Histadrut and moved up the ranks to become head of its Political Department. This appointment was important training for her future role in Israeli leadership.

In July 1938, Meir was the Jewish observer from Palestine at the Évian Conference, called by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to discuss the question of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Delegates from the 32 invited countries repeatedly expressed their sorrow for the plight of the European Jews, but made excuses as to why their countries could not help by admitting the refugees. The only exception was the Dominican Republic, which pledged to accept 100,000 refugees. Meir was disappointed at the overall outcome and remarked to the press, "There is only one thing I hope to see before I die and that is that my people should not need expressions of sympathy anymore."

In June 1946, the British cracked down on the Zionist movement in Palestine, arresting many leaders of the Yishuv. They had been provoked by paramilitary Zionist activities. Golda became the principal negotiator between the Jews in Palestine and the British Mandatory authorities.

In January 1948, the treasurer of the Jewish Agency was convinced that Israel would not be able to raise more than $7 - 8 million from the American Jewish community. Meir traveled to the United States and managed to raise $50 million, which was used to purchase arms in Europe. Ben-Gurion wrote that Meir's role as the "Jewish woman who got the money which made the state possible" would go down one day in the history books.

On May 10, 1948, four days before the official establishment of the state, Meir traveled to Amman disguised as an Arab woman for a secret meeting with King Abdullah of Transjordan at which she urged him not to join the other Arab countries in attacking the Jews. Abdullah asked her not to hurry to proclaim a state. Meir replied: "We've been waiting for 2,000 years. Is that hurrying?"