JERUSALEM (Dec. 12)
“If it had not been for Golda, Israel would not have come out of the Yom Kippur War the way she did. If it had not been for Golda, you would not have overcome.” Those words were spoken by Henry Kissinger today, shortly after he attended Golda Meir’s funeral. He spoke to Israeli reporters in his King David Hotel suite here as a private citizen who, as the U.S. Secretary of State five years ago, learned to know Premier Golda Meir better than perhaps any other foreign diplomat.
“Usually when I dealt with foreign policy I did not allow myself to be involved emotionally,” Kissinger said. “With Golda it was different. My wife used to say that the arguments between Golda and myself were among the most successful dramas she had ever seen. Golda was a great leader, beyond Israel’s boundaries. She was an example in her own characteristics — power, understanding and sentimentality. She showed an extraordinary integration of tremendous power and humaneness…. She united around her the State and one can say that it was Golda who began the peace process,” Kissinger said.
He noted that she alone had the power to sign the separation of forces agreement with Egypt two months after the Yom Kippur War. “One should remember that the agreement has worked for more than five years and by all signs it would hold even longer. That was her achievement, but one tends to forget it.”
‘I WISH I HAD KNOWN YOU’
Mrs. Lillian Carter, President Carter’s mother, also had some words about Golda when she met with reporters in the King David Hotel dining room today. Mrs. Carter, who headed the American delegation to the funeral, told the reporters that she had been scheduled to dedicate a Jewish senior citizens home in Los Angeles today. “But Jimmy called me Saturday and said ‘mother, go to Golda Meir’s funeral.'”
She said that when she reminded her son that she had other plans, he told her, “Mother, you are talking to the President.” Mrs. Carter said she had planned to meet Mrs. Meir for the first time this year, pointing out that they were of the same age — 80. She noted that Golda wanted no eulogies. “Golda, this is no eulogy, it’s just me telling you how much I wish I had known you,” Mrs. Carter said.
Premier Menachem Begin, who returned last night from Oslo where he received the Nobel Peace Prize, issued a short statement in tribute to the former Premier before the funeral. He referred to her as “a great daughter of the Jewish people.”