1969 – The Iron Lady

By Noah Libson (Rosh, Drachimnik and Zionism Tafkid for Va'ad Tnuah)

On 16 March 1969, after the sudden death of Labor Party leader Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir became Prime Minister of Israel. Meir was the first, and to date, only woman to hold the office. She was referred to as the 'Iron Lady', long before the term became synonymous with Margaret Thatcher.

Six months after taking office, Meir led her party into a decisive win in a general election, the 56 Knesset seats won still stands as the best showing for a party or faction in Israeli political history. The 1969 election was to be the last election in Israel in which left wing parties would have complete dominance, their majority over the right being reduced by just 12 seats in 1973.

Meir's legislative successes involved meeting many world leaders such as Richard Nixon and Willy Brandt to discuss her plans for peace. She accepted several US peace initiatives, and in the wake of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, ordered the Mossad to hunt down operatives of the terrorist group Black September.

After the Yom Kippur war however, there was doubt over how prepared the Israeli government had been for war, and how much responsibility Meir should take for the failures and heavy losses Israel had suffered. Her party won the elections in 1973, but she resigned as Prime Minister on 11 April 1974 and was succeeded by Yitzhak Rabin. She died in 1978, and is buried in Mount Herzl, Jerusalem.