Golda Meir – Foreign Minister, 1956
This photograph shows a meeting between Golda Meir, the Israeli foreign minister, and 13 men, including her deputy and the Israeli ambassadors to Britain, the United States, the UN, France, and the Soviet Union. Golda Meir is debriefing her diplomatic team just before the Sinai Campaign (Suez Crisis).
Golda Meir became Israel’s foreign minister in 1956, and within the first few months of office, the Sinai Campaign (Suez Crisis) broke out. The Sinai War was fought by Israel, Britain, and France against the Egyptian invasion of the Sinai desert. After international pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union, and the UN, the forces withdrew from Sinai. Following the war, UN troops were deployed in Sinai and the Strait of Tiran in the Red Sea was reopened to Israeli shipping. 177 Israeli soldiers were killed in the war and hundreds wounded.
History teachers can use the picture as a trigger when learning about the Sinai Campaign of 1956.
The picture, showing Golda Meir as the only woman in a photograph of 14 people, can also be used in Social Studies or Civics lessons to discuss the lives of Golda Meir or other women politicians as women in what was (and still is) a male-dominated world and to compare between Golda’s career and politics today.
Describe what you see in the picture
What are the people doing?
Who is the woman in the picture?
Which aspect of the picture do you think stands out?
Reading Between the Lines
What do you know about the woman in the picture?
Describe the challenges she may have had as a woman who devoted her life to politics.
What do you know about the Sinai Campaign of 1956?
Describe the challenges that would have faced the ambassadors in this meeting and how they would relay this meeting to the different countries they were serving.
Compare the role of an Israeli ambassador in 1956 to today.
How has it changed? How has it remained the same?
Do you know of any other female prime ministers in world history?
Who are they and where did they serve?
Why do you think there haven’t been many female prime ministers in the world?
Do you think that it is easier to be a female politician today than it was 50 years ago? Explain.
Compare the number of men and women in the Knesset in 1956, today, and what you think it will look like in 2056. Explain your reasons.
Does society treat men and women in public service differently?
How are these differences expressed?
Can this aspect of society be changed?
How can it be changed?
Draw a timeline of the wars and military operations in which Israel has participated since 1948 with some brief points about each.
Write a skit between a contemporary female politician and Golda Meir.
What experience would they share? What advice might Golda give the politician?