Visit With Prime Minister Golda Meir
Plain Truth Magazine
June 1971
Volume: Vol XXXVI, No.6
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Visit With Prime Minister Golda Meir

   IS IT SIGNIFICANT of this time, that growing girls and young women, that women are reflecting increasing qualities of leadership, while young men are evidencing less and less?
   Every college president, I am sure, has become painfully aware of this modern trend. The young people born since World War II are, indeed, a new breed.
   Today three nations, one of them modern Judah, are ruled by woman Prime Ministers. They are: Mrs. Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel; Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India's 550 teeming millions — second largest population in the world — and Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Ceylon.
   In the past few months I have had personal meetings with two of these ruling women — Mrs. Meir and Mrs. Gandhi. Each told me of the overwhelming problems that beset her. It seemed to me that these problems are too stupendous to have to come crashing down on the shoulders of a woman.
   Never before has the whole world been embroiled in such weighty, apparently unsolvable problems. It is indeed a frightening world in which we live today. The fact that these are women of exceptional abilities does not lessen the burden.
   I have said before, and I say again, Jerusalem is destined to be the focal point — the nerve center — of world news from here on out. And on the human level, the destiny of the Israeli people is presently in the hands of a woman.
   What are the crushing problems that confront her?
   What kind of woman is Mrs. Meir?

Talking With Mrs. Meir

   I am able to answer both questions much more intelligently since spending forty-five minutes with the Prime Minister in her executive office last February 7th. She told me her problems, and how she views them. And after this personal contact, seeing and hearing her at close range, I understand much better than before what kind of woman she is.
   Of course I was previously aware generally of Israel's problems. But I had not previously seen them through her eyes, as she views them. Also I had observed Mrs. Meir in extended television interviews, as have millions of others. But seeing her in person, chatting with her, listening to her in real life, gave me a much clearer perception of her as she really is.
   In one sense Mrs. Meir is most certainly no ordinary woman. Yet, paradoxically, that is because she is, after all, such an ordinary woman. She is small of physical stature. From having seen her many times on television, I had expected to see a taller woman. But in character and ability she is of unusually great stature.
   Without apology to anyone, I have to attribute to this so common, yet so UNcommon a woman, humanly, the quality of GREATNESS, such as is possessed by so very few — if any — men in public life today.
   Emphatically, that is not flattery. I never flatter.
   Why do I attribute the almost nonexistent quality of greatness to Mrs. Meir?
   Because she is humble. Because she is just an ordinary, plain, down-to-earth, unpretentious homespun woman and mother. She puts on no airs. She makes no effort to impress anyone. No pretenses. But to lead His people Judah, the Eternal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has bestowed on this daughter and mother in Israel an exceptionally intelligent, capable, balanced and understanding mind.
   She has that rare quality of seeing things precisely as they are. Her vision is in sharp focus. Her mind pierces through the extraneous and confusing details to the central important point. She remains unconfused by the labyrinth of branches and twigs, and has the trunk of the tree in clear view.
   One man, well experienced in worldwide political affairs, said "the subject of world peace is a very complicated one." I was very happy to observe, in our conversation, that it is not at all a complicated subject to Mrs. Meir. To her, peace is a very simple matter — if leaders and their peoples were willing to have it. For forty years I have been presenting the subject to the world as a very simple one. There is a cause for every effect. The way of life that will cause peace is what I term very simply as the "give" way; and the world insists on living the "get" way.
   I was quite impressed by the fact that when speaking of soldiers risking their lives for her country, this woman sees them through a mother's eyes. Yes, Mrs. Meir is common clay — a mother, a former Milwaukee, U. S. A. school teacher who loved and taught children. Yet at the same time she is a capable executive of firm purpose and uncompromising, unbending will against what she sees is wrong. For with all her common, down-to-earth qualities is joined the quality of firmness and determination.
   It seems a pity that President Sadat of Egypt cannot allow himself the luxury and privilege of feeling free to rid his mind of prejudice, and objectively to sit down with this common homespun but grand lady and with open mind come to know her and realize how easy it would be to arrange a mutually beneficial PEACE between their nations. But if he should mistakenly confuse simplicity and plainness with weakness — or consider her an "easy mark" to be taken advantage of — he would make a costly mistake.
   But now, what did she say? What happened in our meeting?

During Our Meeting

   It has been custom for thousands of years to present a gift when visiting a king or ruler. I presented Mrs. Meir with an original crystal sculpture, made exclusively for her by Steuben. She seemed very pleased with it, commenting that she did not deserve something so beautiful. She had received other pieces of Steuben — one from Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York.
   I was accompanied by Minister of Tourism in her cabinet, Moshe Kol, Mr. Albert J. Portune, Vice President of Ambassador College for Finances and Planning, Mr. Charles F. Hunting of our English campus, Vice President for Financial Affairs in U. K., Europe and the Middle East, 'and with Mr. Stanley R. Rader, general counsel for Ambassador College.
   Mrs. Meir was already well informed about Ambassador College, and our joint-participation in the great archeological project, and also in Mr. Kol's international youth movement.
   I asked Mrs. Meir what Ambassador College could do to promote peace and understanding in the Middle East.

Israel Wants Peace

   The Prime Minister then spoke at some length in answer to my question.
   "What Israel wants," she said, "is really quite simple. It's as simple as two plus two equals four. Yet other nations and other peoples seem to be able to understand Einstein's theory of relativity more easily. What Israel wants is PEACE, and this seems to others to be so very complicated..."
   Mrs. Meir said that Israel must remain free and independent within secure borders in order to continue to provide a haven for all Jewish people.
   "We must be free," she continued, "to provide a place for people who have been persecuted throughout the world for so many centuries. Only Israel has been willing to receive with open arms so many people' from so many places. In the last 15 years Israel has received more than 800,000 people from the poorest areas of Africa and Asia. They were people who were ill fed, ill-clothed, illiterate, in poor health. Some actually came from dwelling in caves in Libya.
   "And yet," she explained, "with such human material, Israel has been able to create useful citizens. They have now learned a new language. They have learned to live in a modern society. They are now well fed, reasonably well clothed, gaining education. Their children will be even better educated, more useful to themselves and their new homeland country, and will live fruitful and fulfilled lives."
   When these people — destitute refugees — arrive in Israel, they are immediately housed and cared for. I learned a good deal about this program on my second visit to this remarkable new country in 1966. These poverty-stricken newcomers are given jobs. Often they have to live in tents at first. But they are paid, and given instruction on saving a portion of their wages. In a reasonably short time they are able to move into a house or flat. As I now remember it, they can buy their own flat on the installment plan, and it is to a considerable extent subsidized by the government. Some are taken into a kibbutz.

Advances Made By Israelis

   Mrs. Meir made a special point of another astonishing achievement.
   "An extraordinarily high infant mortality rate plagued these immigrants before their arrival in Israel. There was a correspondingly high death rate of mothers in childbirth. But now one may contrast those figures with what is one of the lowest infant mortality rates, and mother childbirth death rates in the world."
   Then she told us of the Israelis' ability and willingness to HELP their Arab neighbors. This small but remarkable nation now sends its experts and its technology throughout the deepest parts of Africa and to even more remote places in the world to help under-developed nations.
   "How easy it would be," she said earnestly, "to send the same teams across the border into Jordan, or across the canal into Egypt, and how much prosperity and happiness would be brought to this entire area of the world by peace."
   Two days before, Egyptian President Sadat had made a speech on the Middle East crisis, extending the cease-fire another thirty days. Mrs. Meir did not see in his speech any evidence of desire for peace. On the contrary, she said, it was belligerent and militantly hostile.
   "How," she asked, "could the Egyptian leaders believe with any sincerity that destruction of Israel — or war with Israel — could produce any prosperity or happiness for the Egyptian people?"
   "We don't want to have to go on winning more and more victories," she added. "We only want peace."
   Mrs. Meir spoke of a newly developed kibbutz in Israeli occupied Jordan west of the Jordan river. I have driven past it three or four times. She contrasted the bumper crop of tomatoes with adjoining areas occupied by Arabs, desolate and consisting of rocks and sand. The Israelis, since becoming a nation, have had to take this same kind of desolate land, with nothing but rocks and sand — clear away the rocks, and turn the land into fertile productive soil. Of course I have been very much impressed with this condition ever since I first visited the country. To see the contrast between rich, black soil covered with green vegetation and crops, and, in adjoining Arab land the utter desolation reflecting indolence, laziness, shiftlessness and degeneration, is an astonishing spectacle.
   "How easy it would be," said this lady Prime Minister, "if they would let us help the Jordanians do with their neglected and arid wasteland as we have done."

Hussein Would Like Peace

   I would like to mention, at this point, that I feel King Hussein would gladly welcome such peace, cooperation and help in improving his people. Three times I have had appointments set up for a personal meeting with King Hussein. Each time a war incident prevented. Once he had unexpectedly been called away from Amman in an emergency. Another time, war conditions made it unsafe for me to go there.
   I have read King Hussein's autobiography. He was educated in England, and also in Cairo, as well as in Jordan. There is much to admire in him. He yearns to help upgrade his people and improve their status in life. Above all things, he is an Arab at heart, and that is the principal reason he went along with President Nasser in fighting against Israel. I personally feel Hussein would have been glad to make peace with his Israeli neighbors, and have entered a co-operative arrangement for the benefit of his people. But his dedication as an Arab, and the political pressures from Cairo and other Arab Capitals prevented. Hussein also is under constant pressure from within his own country. Other Jordanian leaders are constantly maneuvering to overthrow him and seize his throne. He lives in daily fear of assassination. He witnessed personally the assassination of his beloved grandfather, King Abdullah. As in the title of his autobiography, "Uneasy lies the Head."

Back to Our Meeting

   Mrs. Meir showed us one of a four volume set of books published in Hebrew. These were most unusual. They contained pictures of all of those dead as a consequence of the 1948 war of independence, the 1956 Sinai campaign, the six-day war of 1967 and the various incidents during the entire period of the State. The volumes also contained pieces of poetry and prose written by some of the people who sacrificed their lives.
   Mrs. Meir said that President Nasser never understood the character of the Israeli people. He proclaimed that no people would be able to be successful on the battlefield if they placed such a great value on human life that they published pictures daily in their newspapers of their casualties and compiled reminders of the battlefield mortalities.
   "However," she said, "it was this very great value that the Israeli people placed upon human life that enables them to endure and to prevail in their efforts to resist aggression and to build a great nation."
   Mrs. Meir then presented each of us with an autographed book. Each contained, in English, bits of poetry and prose written by young men who returned to their kibbutz after having experienced the horrors of warfare during the six-day war in 1967.
   She stressed how this particular segment of the Israeli population, dedicated to life and things productive, was affected by the necessity to take human life in a military campaign. She indicated that these young people did not harbor any feelings of hatred or hostility toward their neighbors, notwithstanding the trauma of the war and the stresses on the society since June of 1967.
   She seemed very proud and pleased to be able to make that comment.

Why Can't We Have Peace?

   What a deplorable tragedy that the whole world cannot now have the kind of PEACE, with prosperity and happiness that Prime Minister Golda Meir expressed a desire for — each nation co-operating with its neighbor.
   But the REASON is summed up in the Biblical statement: "The WAY of peace they know not." There has, of necessity, to be a CAUSE for every effect. There will have to be a CAUSE to produce peace. That cause is a WAY of life.
   It is the WAY Mrs. Meir said she would like to see in practice with Israel's neighbor, Jordan — the way of CO-OPERATION! It is the WAY of OUTGOING CONCERN for neighbor equal to self -concern.
   For the past 40 years I have taught that WAY. Thousands of lives have turned to it — been changed — and now SET THE LIVING EXAMPLE OF PEACE!
   Today In this great Work of which this magazine is a part, we proclaim THAT WAY to 150 MILLION people — one in every 23 people on earth. Today on three college campuses we practice THAT WAY, and we are setting the living EXAMPLE of PEACE — three campuses where there is radiating HAPPINESS, beauty, harmony, and NO protest, riots or violence.
   Many are beginning to recognize that this is the most effective contribution toward WORLD PEACE in active operation on earth today.

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Plain Truth MagazineJune 1971Vol XXXVI, No.6