In a speech at Hebrew University Monday, singer Barbra Streisand expressed her dismay at what she called the “discriminatory behavior” against women by members of the hareidi community. “There are women who are forced to sit at the back of the bus,” Streisand said, adding that it was just as shocking to her to hear that women who tried to pray at the Western Wall were attacked. Streisand called for full, equal rights for men and women in all corners of Israeli society – including hareidi-religious groups.
Streisand is in Israel to perform at two concerts, being given in honor of President Shimon Peres' 90th birthday. She was presented with an honorary doctorate at Hebrew University Monday.
"I realize it's not easy to fully grasp the dynamics of what happens in a foreign land. Israel and the United States have much in common: Two great and noble countries, each with problems of course, but always striving to shine as a beacon of hope,” Streisand said. “So it's distressing to hear about women in Israel being forced to sit at the back of a bus, or when we hear about Women of the Wall having metal chairs hurled at them when they attempt to peacefully pray, or when women are banned from singing in public ceremonies.”
This was in contrast to Hebrew University itself, Streisand said. “One of the things I've always admired about this university is the fact that here, women and men, Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims, native-born and immigrants, sit together in classes, share the same cafeterias, learn from the same professors, and dream together of a good and meaningful life," she said.
In 1984 Streisand established the Emanuel Streisand Building in memory of her beloved father, whom she praised at the time as “a teacher, scholar and religious man who devoted himself to education. I think he would be very proud to know that this esteemed institution is honoring his daughter," she said.