In reading the fascinating and even-handed account of the founding of Israel by two French journalists, O Jerusalem, I realize what a seminal role Golda Mabovitch Meir played in the founding of the state of Israel. There are so many "what if's" in her life: what if her father, a carpenter, had not immigrated from Kiev, Ukraine to New York City in 1903, and brought his family to Milwaukee, WI in 1906? What if she had not moved to Denver at the age of 14 to live with her sister and learn about Zionism, women's suffrage, trade unionism, and literature, and to meet her husband? What if she and her husband had not returned to Milwaukee to become part of a labor Zionist youth movement, and become inspired to move to Palestine to join a Kibbutz in 1921?
All of these early experiences were integral to Meir's later role in building support for the emerging nation of Israel in the United States. In January, 1948, the treasurer of the Jewish Agency was convinced Zionists would not be able to raise more than eight million dollars from the American Jewish community. Meir, with all her American connections and charisma, raised $50 million, which was used to purchase crucial weapons in Europe to defend the young nation in its unlikely victory against Arab nations, who over-confidently believed they would easily drive Israel into the sea. David Ben-Gurion, Israel's founding father and first Prime Minister, credited Meir as "the Jewish woman who got the money that made the state possible," and who would go down in the history books for that accomplishment alone. Meir went on to serve as Israel's labor minister, foreign minister, and prime minister, from 1969 to 1974.