The Legacy of Golda Meir Is More Alive Than Ever

The voice of the woman who was the embodiment of Israeli arrogance emanates from more throats now than it has for a long time.

Golda Meir speaking at the United Nations
Golda Meir speaking at the United Nations, Oct. 22, 1970. AP

Golda Meir is long gone, and so is Moshe Dayan. Generals no longer park their Plymouth Valiants on the sidewalk outside Eli Ronen's grill at Kikar Malkhei Yisrael in Tel Aviv. They no longer eat "on the house," as befits their exalted station, and cigar smoke no longer obscures their photographs on the eatery's walls. Generals have become nameless soldiers, but, nevertheless, nothing has changed since that terrible war, the Yom Kippur War, that endless source of lamentation and also heroic stories.

Meir died bitter, in the winter of 1978. Her spirit and her legacy are alive today more than ever. The voice of the woman who was the embodiment of Israeli arrogance emanates from more throats now than it has for a long time. From U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the political thinker Moshe Ya'alon - all those who know "there is no solution." From Yesha Council of settlements chairman Dani Dayan, who looks ready to explode from self-satisfaction, to the disciples of the school of "there is no partner to negotiations," they all speak Golda. No other Israeli political figure has ever left such a deep footprint in the national DNA. No other political doctrine has been immortalized the way that of the queen mother has been. In her kitchen she whipped up a concoction of contempt that has lasted until now - the principle that says time is on our side. She patronized the Mizrahim, who put an end to her party's monopoly in power. She patronized the Arabs, who brought on the mother of all wars and the pointless death of 20,000 on both sides. Lo and behold, the prime minister whose legacy is adhered to most stringently, down to the present day, is neither David Ben-Gurion nor even Menachem Begin, but rather the worst premier Israel has ever had.

Even today, the situation is great and time is working overtime to our benefit. No Arabs, no terror attacks, everything is totally awesome. Romney-Netanyahu say we have no partner for peace talks, nor anything to discuss in them, and the chorus of commentators answers them with an echo. Sitting in Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah are the two most moderate Palestinian leaders of all time - and we have no partner for talks. The terror attacks have ended almost completely - and we have no partner for talks.

The majority of Israelis tell pollsters they support a two-state solution, the prime minister says so, too - but not here and not now. Two days ago it was because there is no Palestinian nation, yesterday it was because of the terror attacks, today it's because of the Arab Spring and tomorrow it will be because Al-Qaida is coming to the region. "And how without pain, time," wrote the poet Yehuda Amichai, but then, Israelis don't read anyway.

Here is the doctrine, in a nutshell: Three and a half million Palestinians will remain without a state and without civil rights forever. Why? Because Netanyahu-Lieberman-Ya'alon decided for them, because they don't have a solution. Sometimes, like now, the Palestinians' situation improves slightly, sometimes it deteriorates. And, in any event, they will never dare to object again, to fight or to blow themselves up. There is no 21st century, no outside world, no international law and no history teaching that it cannot be this way. The occupation will continue for eternity, the Palestinians and the world will accept it, and time will work to our advantage. That is exactly how people once spoke. "Nasser is waiting for Rabin," ai ai ai, and "Sharm el-Sheikh without peace..." That chutzpah never faltered for a moment. Now it is aimed against America as well, the country that rescued Israel in that terrible war - one more lesson never learned.

The political stock exchange is now seeing green: relative calm, economic growth and the international community is demonstrating restraint. Exactly how it was on the eve of that war. Back then, no one even imagined that, just six years on, the barefoot armies of 1967 would come close to defeating "the best army in the world." It is hard to imagine even now. Whether as a result of intolerable international pressure, or bloodshed the likes of which we have never seen, the occupation will come to an end. Does that seem unimaginable now? Think back to 40 years ago.