Golda Meir: Milwaukee’s hero is no hero to Palestinians


A new play, “To the Promised Land,” recently was presented at the former Fourth Street Elementary school in Milwaukee, to honor Golda Meir, who attended the school and grew up to become a prime minister of Israel. It opens tonight at the Todd Wehr Theater.

Playwright Jonathan Gillard Daly's own daughter attended the school, which was renamed after the Zionist leader. 

But while Meir may be a hero to the uninformed, she is no hero to Palestinians, who have been suffering since the Nakba of 1948. The American Muslims in Palestine is setting the record straight. Below is information about Meir and present-day Israeli occupation policies that not only target Palestinians but also African immigrants, who have suffered violence, deportations and blatant racism.


Golda Meir, a prime minister of Israel, has been heralded as a hero, a woman pioneer of sorts for her role in creating the state of Israel from Palestine. But reality is different than the myths that surround her; some Jewish writers go so far as claiming that for all her accolades, Meir never did anything to help enrich and empower the lives of women around her. She also was intent on ethnically cleansing the indigenous population from Palestine to make room for Jewish immigrants. In other words, she had no problem in forcibly removing people from their homes and kicking them out of their country in order that Israel may exist. Here are some facts about Golda Meir:

Golda Meir was born in 1898 in Kiev, which at that time was part of the Russian empire. (Today, it is in Ukraine).1

Her real name is Golda Mabovitch. She changed her name to a Hebrew one – Meir - in 1956 at the insistence of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. 1

Though her Russian family kept kosher, they were not a religious family.1

In 1906 when she was eight, Golda emigrated from Russia to Milwaukee, where she attended Fourth Street Elementary School.1 

At the age of 14, Golda defied her parents and ran away from home, living with her sister in Denver. 1

Golda adopted her sister’s socialist views, which helped her move to a Socialist commune in Palestine in 1921.1  

The commune, or kibbutz, was built on land near the Sea of Galilee, which was purchased by the Jewish National Fund and other Jewish agencies, “whose aim was the acquisition of land in Palestine for purposes of colonization.”2

Colonization in Palestine coincides with the removal of the indigenous Palestinian people. From 1947-1949,  militant Jewish forces killed 13,000 Palestinians, and destroyed and/or depopulated 531 Palestinian villages, to make room for Jewish immigrants. 

Golda lived in the kibbutz for two years with her husband Morris Myerson until they moved to Jerusalem. 2

She eventually left her husband in 1928 and moved to Tel Aviv with her children, “because I couldn’t be the wife he wanted and should have had.” 1

Actually, Golda moved to Tel Aviv to take a job she knew her husband would not approve of, with the Women’s Workers Council. 1

In 1960, Golda lived in the upper floors of the Jerusalem Villa Harun ar-Rashid, which had been confiscated by the Jews from a Palestinian Christian family and divided up into apartments.3

Golda became politically active and was elected to the Knesset in 1948, shortly after the creation of the state of Israel.

She served as Israeli Foreign Minister from 1956-1966. During this time, Israel:

  • Feb. 28, 1955 – attacks Egyptian forces in Gaza, killing dozens
  • Dec. 11, 1955 – attacks Syrian territory near Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee)
  • Oct. 28, 1955 - attacks Egypt in what is called the Suez Crisis. 4

Israel supported the Apartheid regime in South Africa from its earliest days in 1948. 

Yet, in the 1950s, Israel turned its back on South African Apartheid for a short while in order to try to establish relations with emerging liberated sub-Saharan African countries. They did this in a concerted effort to get more support in the United Nations. 5

“The relationship did not always proceed smoothly. In 1961 Israel hoped to improve it’s standing in Black Africa by joining the countries that censured South Africa at the United Nations. South African prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd, the main architect of apartheid, rebuked Israel with these words: ‘Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state’ (Rand Daily Mail, November 23, 1961). 6

But Secret documents show that Israel and South Africa had secret negotiations concerning nuclear weapons in the 1970s. 7


In 1962, while Golda was foreign minister, Israel accepted 10 tons of uranium for its secret nuclear program from Apartheid South Africa. Israel still has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.6

Golda was Israeli prime minister from 1969-1974. In 1967, Israel launched the Six Day War and occupied what was left of historic Palestine. In that war, an additional 350,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes. Israel still refused to allow Palestinian refugees their right to return home, which is against international law.

They continued:

  • Home demolitions
  • Random arrests and detentions without charge
  • The application of military laws to Arabs but civilian laws to Jews
  • Segregated school systems for Jewish and non-Jewish students
  • Curfews, checkpoints and roadblocks on Palestinians

Golda Meir supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, who she said had ‘never existed’ in the first place. 

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people ... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”

(Golda Meir statement to the Sunday Times, June 15, 1969)8

"I, too, would want the Arabs out of the country and my conscience would be absolutely clear." - (Golda Meir, at debate at the World Convention of Ihud Po'alei Tzion in August 1937.) 9

Today, African immigrants in Israel are facing violence, deportations and forced enclosure in camps as authorities publicly worry that the black immigrants are threatening the Jewish nature of Israel. 10

“The demonstrators chanted “The people demand the expulsion of the infiltrators,” ‘We have come to expunge the darkness,’ and ‘Tel Aviv is for Jews, Sudan is for Sudanese.’ Ben Ari … called Netanyahu’s cabinet ‘the blackest government ever for Tel Aviv.’ 10

Israel currently is building a wall between Egypt and Israel to keep African immigrants out of Israel. 11



  1. GOLDA MEIR, 1898 – 1978, by Letty Cottin Pogrebin,
  2. “Buying the Emek,” by Arthur Ruppin. Jewish Virtual Library, May 1929
  3. “Rite of return to a Palestinian home,” by George E. Bisharat, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 10, 2005
  4. Fifty Years of Israel by Donald Neff, American Educational Trust, Washington DC, 1998
  5. MEIR GOLDA 1898-1978 
  6. “Israel´s Alliance with Apartheid South Africa,” by Nancy Murrary
  7. “Top secret Israel-South Africa Nuclear documents revealed,” by Kristin Szremski,
  8. Qumsiyeh: A Human Rights Web
  9. Statements by Key Zionist Leaders on Palestinian Transfer and Expulsion: 1895-1948
  10. “Israeli Jewish hate rally against Africans in Tel Aviv caught on video as Haaretz deletes article about it,” by Ali Abunimah, Dec. 12, 2011
  11. Israel right-wing activists rally in Tel Aviv; demand expulsion of African migrant