An Opportunity to Reappraise Golda Meir

Golda Meir is having quite a moment in the sun.

The revival of interest in the former Prime Minister started a year ago with the Berlinale’s premiere of Golda, a British film with an Israeli director starring Helen Mirren, which opened in the summer to largely positive reviews and is now streaming on Amazon. With a script based on newly released government documents, “Golda” marked the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.

This fall saw the release of Golda’s War Dairies,” a fascinating documentary also based on these long-secret files and also focused on her controversial handling of the Yom Kippur War.

Golda Meir was 75 when the Yom Kippur War started

Golda’s reputation is also reevaluated in Golda Meir: Israel’s Matriarch,” a newly published biography by Deborah Lipstadt, the distinguished Emory University professor and Holocaust scholar currently serving as the US State Department’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism.

Lena Fishman, who was hired two years ago to turn Denver’s Golda Meir House into a museum, has also spent a great deal of time researching the iconic Jewish leader. As executive director of the Golda Meir House Museum, she was also in close contact with Golda’s filmmakers.

Fishman will speak about Golda’s legacy and offer a behind-the-scenes look at “Golda” at the Boulder JCC on Tuesday, March 5 at 10 am. Audiences are invited to watch both the feature film and documentary at home and discuss them with Fishman and Kathryn Bernheimer.

The opportunity to reappraise Golda Meir comes at an interesting time.

In 1973 there was a surprise attack. The military was caught off guard. Early warning signs were ignored. Israel suffered terrible losses. Israel turned to the US for military aid. In turn, the US exerted its influence, and urged a ceasefire. A once-popular Prime Minister struggled to defend the nation from an existential threat under close public scrutiny. Sound familiar?

Helen Mirren plays Israel’s Iron Lady

How has history judged Golda Meir? She is sometimes blamed for failing to heed the warning of an imminent attack and for the massive loss of life in the war. She is also credited by many for her decisive actions under terrible pressures as she successfully led Israel though a complex crisis.

Though she was officially cleared of responsibility for the war-related failures in an inquiry she initiated, many Israelis still hold her responsible for the terrible losses during the bloody war. In America, she remains a legendary figure who represents the triumph of Zionism against all odds, a woman of valor inextricably woven into Israel’s identity.

Both films restore Golda’s legacy, indicating that while she not entirely blameless and she herself was haunted by regret, she exercised exemplary leadership, saving Israel, and paving the way for peace with Egypt. Additionally, we must not forget all that she accomplished in her previous decades of public service.

Register here. Upon registering, you will be sent a link to watch “Golda’s War Diaries” at home.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn has spent her professional life writing about, teaching, and presenting the arts. Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Kathryn was Director of Menorah and ACE at the Boulder JCC from 2003 through August, 2019. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time." kathryn.bernheimer@gmail.com

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