Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Clinton Shocked at Israeli Women’s Status

No More Back of the Bus: Hillary Clinton blasted Israel?s treatment of women at a forum in Washington. She suggested it is a blemish on Israeli democracy. Image by U.S. State Department

Several Israeli government ministers on Sunday sharply responded to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her critical comments on the status of women in Israel and Knesset bills that would restrict left-wing organizations.

Speaking to a closed forum in Washington on Saturday, Clinton criticized recent legislative attempts in Israel to restrict left-wing organizations and expressed shock over growing discrimination against Israeli women. She mentioned cases of IDF soldiers leaving during performances of female singers and the fact that females sit in the back of buses in certain places in Israel. Clinton said that some of these phenomena reminded her of Iran.

Clinton told the meeting that the bus issue reminded her of the civil rights movement, when black activist Rosa Parks had to exercise civil disobedience to win the right to ride on racially segregated buses, news outlets reported.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Clinton’s comments were “completely exaggerated”.

“Israeli democracy is alive, liberal and breathing,” Steinitz said at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “I don’t know many better democracies in the world. It is of course necessary to fix things sometimes. The matter of excluding and segregating women is completely unacceptable and needs to be put to a stop, but there is a great distance between this and the argument that there is a threat to Israeli democracy.”

But opposition leader Tzipi Livni praised Clinton, calling her speech a wise warning to Israelis about the dangers to their democracy.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said that elected officials should concentrate on what is happening in their own countries. He added, however, that he shared the concern over the dignity of women. He said that the government should take steps to demonstrate its commitment to equality between men and women.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai said that the Knesset passes laws after thorough checks.

“Israel is the only democratic country in the Middle East,” Yishai said. “I assume that everything done here will be done within the law and I am not concerned by that.”

For more, go to Haaretz.com

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.