Sunday, April 22, 2018

Golda reading

My daughter has to do a school history essay on a "Great Person" of the 20th century, and wanted it to be a woman.  She had first thought about Margaret Thatcher, but then couldn't be bothered understanding English politics, so was asking me for other suggestions.  I think she is now doing Golda Meir.

As it happens, I've never read all that much about the creation of Israel: not even Exodus (or watched the movie.)

But reading up a bit today on Golda Meir so I can write the essay (just kidding), she's a far more interesting character than I realised:   born in Russia with her family experiencing Jewish pogroms there, they moved to Milwaukee (!) before she got into Zionism at a young age and was over in Palestine kibbutz-ing before heading back to the US.  I won't bother summarising the rest, except to say that I didn't realise that she had been so entrenched in the whole Zionist movement so early, and had a prominent diplomatic type role in the very creation of Israel.   Her politics were also very Left wing, generally speaking, and she was culturally Jewish but an atheist.  She had to deal with the question of using nuclear weapons during Yom Kippur war, perhaps bluffing her way into the huge American support that meant they weren't needed.

Actually, it's funny imagining how confusing the alt.right might find her, if it had been around at the time.

Perhaps I should read her autobiography, if I can ever start reading properly again...

Update:  after I typed this, I read a good review of a new biography of her in Haaretz.  Didn't realise her reputation needed "rehabilitation" in the eyes of many Israelis for the following reason:
A tragedy, because, for several generations of Israelis, Meir, if she’s remembered at all, is perceived as the leader who disregarded the signs that the country was about to be attacked on two fronts, leading to a defensive war in which Israel sustained devastating losses; someone whose hard-headed arrogance led her to reject Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s peace feelers or to recognize the long-standing costs of Israel’s holding on to the territories conquered in 1967, and whose lack of social awareness made her insensitive to the needs and simmering grievances of the non-Ashkenazi half of Israel’s Jewish population, thus contributing to Likud’s rise to power in 1977 and everything that portended.
 Yes, it sounds like I might do better reading this detailed biographer rather than her autobiography.

1 comment:

not trampis said...

autobiographies are usually a waste of time but do read some biographies. An impressive lady. The original iron lady no less