Excerpted: Oriana Fallaci Interviews Golda Meir (1972)

No, I don't have gold in my ear. Please stop asking me that.

Before I reluctantly return Oriana Fallaci’s out-of-print 1976 book, Interview with History, to my shelves, I bring you one more excerpt. I’ve previously presented segments of her tête-à-têtes with Henry Kissinger and Indira Gandhi, and now we look at her meeting with Golda Meir, who was then Israel’s Prime Minister.

Even though Fallaci differed politically with Meir on crucial issues, the journalist acknowledged a sort of love for the politician, who physically resembled her mother. The interview actually took place twice because the first set of microcassettes were stolen from Fallaci’s Jerusalem hotel room. (Fallaci believed that Muammar al-Qaddafi was behind the thievery.) An excerpt from the women’s exchange on the topic of feminism:

“Oriana Fallaci: Shall we talk about the woman Ben-Gurion called ‘the ablest man in my cabinet?’

Golda Meir: That’s one of the legends that have grown up around me. It’s also a legend I’ve always found irritating, though men use it as a great compliment. Is it? I wouldn’t say so. Because what does it really mean? That it’s better to be a man than a woman, a principle on which I don’t agree at all. So here’s what I’d like to say to those who make me such a compliment. And what if Ben-Gurion had said, ‘The men in my cabinet are as able as a woman’? Men always feel so superior. I’ll never forget what happened at a congress of my party in New York in the 1930s. I made a speech and in the audience there was a writer friend of mine. An honest person, a man of great culture and refinement. When it was over he came up to me and exclaimed, ‘Congratulations! You’ve made a wonderful speech! And to think you’re only a woman!’ That’s just what he said in such a spontaneous, instinctive way. It’s a good thing I have a sense of humor….

Oriana Fallaci: The Women’s Liberation Movement will like that, Mrs. Meir.

Golda Meir: Do you mean those crazy women who burn their bras and go around all disheveled and hate men? They’re crazy. Crazy. But how can one accept such crazy women who think that it’s a misfortune to get pregnant and a disaster to bring children into the world? And when it’s the greatest privilege we women have over men.”

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