Golda Meir: Iron Lady of the Middle East

This video talks about the remarkable and also complicated legacy of Golda Meir. Israel’s only female premier was beloved by her nation but had her reputation tarnished to an extent with the outcomes of the Yom Kippur War. In this episode and through this educator’s guide, students will explore and reflect upon Golda Meir’s life, her successes and her failures. Students will be asked to consider what truly makes someone a hero. Is it someone infallible? Students will also think through Golda Meir’s early life in which she made sacrifices for her Zionism, making the decision to immigrate to Israel from the U.S.

  1. What was the Evian conference, and why did it have such an impact on Golda?
  2. What about the 1973 Yom Kippur (or Ramadan/October) War made determining the victor ambiguous?
  3. What was the name of the commission that determined that some Israeli leaders did not do enough to prevent the casualties of the war?
    • Agranat commission
    • Kahan commission
    • UN Resolution 181
    • Dayan commission
  4. What was the name of the Mizrahi group who was bothered by Prime Minister Meir?
    • Mizrahi mayhem
    • Black Panthers
    • Shas
    • Sonei (haters of) Meir
  5. Which city did Meir live in when she lived in America?
    • New York
    • LA
    • Baltimore
    • Milwaukee
  1. We saw Golda Meir leaving behind her comfortable life in America for a difficult one in the pre-state of Israel. Why would Golda leave behind the familiar for the unknown and foreign?
  2. How would history look different if Golda Meir and Israel did not merely have observer status at the Evian Conference, but were active participants?
  3. In what way was Golda Meir’s African project such an important part of her expression of Zionism?
  4. When the Agranat Commission cleared Golda Meir of wrongdoing, she still resigned after it was released. Do you admire her for this or disagree with her decision?
  5. What do you think Golda Meir could have done differently for the Mizrahi community, if anything, and why?
  1. Put your students into small groups of 2-3 and have half the groups come up with three successes of Golda Meir and the other group come up with three failures. Then, call up two representatives from each side and debate Golda Meir’s legacy. After this exercise, do you see Golda as a hero? In answering this, come up with a definition of a hero.
  2. Golda Meir was one of the first female heads of state on earth (6th to be exact). Discuss in class: What does it teach us about the state of Israel that it had a female head of state in 1969 before any Western country did (including the U.S., England, France, Germany, Canada and Australia)?
  3. Engage your students in an experiential learning activity around the theme of Leadership, a theme found in the accompanying video.
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on Golda Meir!
  1. If you were given an hour to sit down with Golda Meir, what are three questions you would ask her?
  2. Is it possible for you to have deep reverence for a leader while acknowledging their imperfections, or do you expect your leaders to be mostly infallible?
  3. Which of Golda Meir’s values do you personally admire the most, and why?
  1. Daniel Gordis, Israel, A Concise History; Chapter 14: The Yom Kippur War–The “Conception” Crashes
  2. Yehuda Avner, The Prime Ministers
  3. Francine Klagsbrun, Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel
  4. Ervin Birnbaum, “The Most Fateful Conference of All Times in Jewish History, Part II,”
  5. Center for Israel Education, “Israeli ‘Black Panthers’ Meet with Prime Minister Meir to Discuss Mizrahi Jews,”

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Experiential Learning is a proactive way to educate with a focus on reflection and can take place in any academic setting: day school, supplementary school, camp, youth group, synagogue, college campus or university. 

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