In 1960, Billy Graham visited Israel where he first met Golda Meir. Prior to his arrival, many Israeli newspapers and media outlets touted headlines asking why Billy Graham was coming to their country.
He went on to give this account of his trip:
“When I first took a preaching tour of Israel, I stayed with Mrs. Golda Meier who was then foreign secretary, and promised her that I was not there to proselytize. Rather, I was there to thank the Jewish people for proselytizing me, having put my faith in a Jew who was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. For being a nation through whom Jesus was brought to the earth in the divine plan of God.
I have always believed that the Jews were God’s special people, chosen to preserve the Hebrew Scriptures through the centuries and to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus.
That was the message of hope we had been sharing around the world.
I have never taken part in organizations or projects that especially targeted Jews. I preach the Gospel to any and all who come to our meetings — whether Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Christian or people of no faith — they are all welcome.”
Billy recounted the day in many interviews stating that they became close friends, even saying, “I found Mrs. Meir to be one of the most knowledgeable and delightful people I have ever met.”
While visiting the U.S. during her time as Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir presented an illustrated Jerusalem Bible to Billy Graham with the inscription, “To a great teacher in all the important matters to humanity and a dear friend of Israel.”