As Israelis go to the polls today, they might not be aware that it was on this very day forty-six years ago that Golda Meir was elected prime minister. Back in 1956, Dan Wakefield, a young journalist whom Nation readers knew better for his reports on the civil-rights movement, traveled to Israel as the magazine’s correspondent. His article of August 4, 1956, was a profile of the then–foreign minister, known then as Golda Myerson.
Mrs. Golda Myerson is a tall, sturdy woman of fifty-eight whose appearance and speech bear little resemblance to the image that has been assigned her in the press since she replaced Moshe Sharett as Israel’s foreign minister in mid-June. The many reports and editorial analyses have made her either a shadow or a mirror of David Ben-Gurion, and promoted the impression that the shadow would follow or the mirror reflect a more “war-like” attitude on the part of the Prime Minister. The interpretations have left little room for Mrs. Myerson as a person or a diplomat—and her own approach to war and peace…. The new foreign minister of Israel is a woman with a proven ability at saying “no” to great-power governments. In the days when the British mandatory government had cut off large-scale Jewish immigration to Palestine, Golda Myerson was one of the foremost workers in conducting the illegal immigration of Jews, and in promoting active armed resistance against the mandate government. Her simple philosophy of the problem became the byword of Jewish action against the government: ‘We have no alternative.”
To mark The Nation’s 150th anniversary, every morning this year The Almanac will highlight something that happened that day in history and how The Nation covered it. Get The Almanac every day (or every week) by signing up to the e-mail newsletter.