Barbra Streisand has spoken out against the treatment of Israeli women by strictly Orthodox Jews.
The singer, who was receiving an honorary doctorate at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, used her speech to voice concerns over what she regarded as recent incidents of sexism in the country.
"It's distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of the bus, or when we hear about ‘Women of the Wall’ having metal chairs hurled at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray, or women being banned from singing in public ceremonies.”
Mrs Streisand warned that, though “it’s not easy to fully grasp the dynamics of what happens in a foreign land”, and “solutions don’t come easy”, this wasn’t an excuse for inaction.
“To remain silent about these things is tantamount to accepting them. Human dignity means giving all people a voice.”
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni drafted legislation in May to make official sexism illegal, declaring that: “Discrimination against women in public places, in public services, cannot be allowed.”
Mrs Streisand praised the Hebrew University for their work in making education available to both men and women.
“For the first time in the history of the HU, more women than men are graduating with a doctorate. That’s amazing. You understand the yearning for equal access to education. I wish the world was more like the hallways of Hebrew University.”
Making her first visit to Israel in 29 years, the Yentl actress is scheduled to sing at President Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday celebration and perform two concerts in Tel Aviv.