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Barbra Streisand Hits Treatment of Israeli Women by Orthodox Jews

Image: Barbra Streisand Hits Treatment of Israeli Women by Orthodox Jews

By Clyde Hughes   |   Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 07:25 AM

Award-winning actoress and singer Barbra Streisand, known for her political activism in the United States, didn't mince words about the treatment of women in Israel during a ceremony honoring her Monday, but some accused the entertainer of "preaching" to the country.

Streisand, who is Jewish, was in Israel Monday to accept an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. While speaking at the ceremony, she spoke out about the treatment of women by Orthodox Jews in Israel, according to Reuters.

"It's distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of a bus or... having metal chairs hurled at them when they intend to peacefully and legally pray. Or women being banned from singing in public ceremonies," Reuters reported Streisand said during the ceremony.

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Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahn, of the Jewish Press, wrote Tuesday that Streisand's made the common mistake of painting all Orthodox Jews, and Israel indirectly, with a broad brush and addressing issues that are "dead issues."

"It indeed was distressing that a handful, more or less, of Haredim threw metal chairs and objects – on one day and only one – at women trying to pray in their own minyan at the Western Wall, which officially is an orthodox synagogue," Ben-Gedalyahn said in his column, calling Streisand a "good liberal Jew."

"Granted, the official Haredi attitude towards the Women of the Wall movement is questionable and is expressed in a way that is destructive. But it is more or less a dead issue. Ditto regarding her comments about women sitting in the back of the bus, a phenomena that is disgusting, which occurs on a tiny percentage point of buses and is on its way to the recycle bin."

Comments on many social media sites running Streisand comments were split. One commenter on CBSNews.com said it took courage for Streisand to take a stand in Israel about women's rights.

"Streisand is right. Allowing religious dogma to serve as the enabling predicate for intolerance toward women needs to be called out in every culture where it exists. I applaud her having both the conviction and courage to stand tall for equal rights and equal access," said the commenter.

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Others, though, were not so charitable, claiming that Streisand's comments singles out Israel while claiming the actor remain silent on other abuses.

"Hey Babsie! I triple-dog-dare you to go to Damascus and issue that same statement," said a commenter on FreeRepublic.com.

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