Misquoting Golda Meir

The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and The Jewish Journal ran an advertisement/letter, paid for by the Anti-Defamation League, which numerous Hollywood celebrities signed.

Unfortunately, Golda Meir was misquoted in the ad in a manner which twists the meaning of her statement. Two separate quotes were presented as one. In her oral autobiography “A Land of Our Own”, these quotes appear on page 242, in an section titled “Plain Talk – On Peace”:

Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us. (National Press Club, Washington, 1957)

When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons. (Press conference in London, 1969)

The ADL’s ad changed the word “sons” to “children”. In addition, they combined the two separate quotes delivered on two separate occasions. This transforms the meaning of her words since Golda Meir was referring to soldiers when she said sons.

The only source for the “children” formulation is David Beiden, a right-wing Israeli blogger who in 2000 published a note claiming he heard Golda Meir use this formulation in 1972.  Golda Meir’s autobiography was published in 1973 and uses the word “sons”.

While we’re quoting her and discussing the Palestinian condition, this is what she had to say after she visited Arab Haifa right after the Nakba:

It is a dreadful thing to see the dead city. Next to the port I found children, women, the old, waiting for a way to leave. I entered the houses, there were houses where the coffee and pita bread were left on the table, and I could not avoid [thinking] that this, indeed, had been the picture in many Jewish towns [i.e., in Europe, during World War II]. (as quoted in “The birth of the Palestinian Refuge problem revisited” by Benny Morris, p.309/10)

Golda Meir recognized the Palestinian tragedy that accompanied the founding of Israel when she saw it with her own eyes. This expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes has been extensively documented by the Israeli “New Historians”(including Benny Morris, Ian Pappe, Avi Shlaim), as has the role that Israel’s leaders played in it. This tragedy continues in the form of the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.