Israel’s Next Female Prime Minister

Who could be the first woman to lead the Jewish state since Golda Meir? And why is it taking so long?

In November 1973, soon after the Yom Kippur War, Nora Ephron flew to Israel and wrote an article titled “Women in Israel: The Myth of Liberation” for New York, about the then-fairly-new feminist movement in Israel and the challenges it faced.

In one paragraph, Ephron writes about the prime minister at the time, Golda Meir:

There is, of course, a prevalent belief in Israel, as well as in the rest of the world, that this country is some sort of paradise for women. To begin with, there is Golda Meir, and her extraordinary achievements are constantly used as an argument against the need for liberation—as in ‘How can you say women are discriminated against when we have a woman Prime Minister?’ In fact, Golda is simply Golda, and she is frequently referred to, in a line that is regarded as a witticism, as ‘the only man in the Cabinet.’ What is more to the point is that she is not only the only woman in the Cabinet, but also the only woman who has ever served in the Cabinet. Mrs. Meir has never shown any active interest in women’s rights—she is a classic example of the successful woman who believes that because she managed to rise to the top, anyone can.

Since Golda resigned from the premiership, there have been other women in the Cabinet, and 43 years later, there are four, the most ever at one time, and one in the more exclusive Diplomatic-Security Cabinet. However, no other woman has risen to the top like Golda.

In a year in which the United Kingdom has its second female prime minister, Theresa May, and a woman, Hillary Clinton, is the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the United States, the question is: When will it be Israel’s turn again? Which of the prominent women in Israeli politics is the likely next contender for prime minister?

Continue reading at Tablet


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