Name at birth: Goldie Mabovitch
Golda Meir was the fourth prime minister of Israel and one of the most visible women in international affairs for nearly two decades. Born in Russia but raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she settled on a kibbutz in British Mandate Palestine with her American husband, Morris Meyerson, in 1921. As Golda Meir (her adopted name), she became active in Zionist politics, and after Israel gained independence in 1948 she served as ambassador to the Soviet Union (1948), was elected to the Knesset (1949) and was named the country's foreign minister (1956-65). Strong-willed and fiercely protective of Israel, she became an international symbol of Israeli resolve. After the death of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in 1969, Meir came out of retirement to become, at age 71, prime minister. Her handling of the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 (the Yom Kippur War) was widely critized, as were her attempts to garner peace for Israel after the war, and she resigned in 1974. She was succeeded by Yitzhak Rabin. Meir published an autobiography, My Life, in 1975.