Clinton’s criticisms of Israeli democracy raise hackles

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli lawmakers rejected U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s criticisms of Israeli democracy made during a closed forum in Washington.

Clinton reportedly rapped two bills making their way through the Knesset that would restrict funding to left-leaning human rights organizations, as well as the marginalization of women in Israel, citing the examples of religious Israeli soldiers leaving programs that feature women singing and women sitting in the back of the bus on some religious bus lines.

She reportedly made the comments, which were reported in the Israeli media, during a closed session Saturday of the Saban Forum attended by American and Israeli political figures.

“Israel is a living, breathing liberal democracy," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said at the start of Israel’s weekly Cabinet meeting. "The issue of the exclusion of women and separation is unacceptable and must be stopped, but to claim there is a threat on Israeli democracy is a big stretch."

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan called on "elected officials around the world [to] examine their domestic problems first.” He added, "I hope that government steps will demonstrate our commitment to equality between men and women."
 

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