Barbra Streisand, now “Dr. Streisand” following an award from Hebrew University on Monday, joined a host of celebrities and politicians who know nothing about Israel but can’t resist telling the country what is best for it, especially for Jewish women.
She played a handicap game, prefacing her remarks about women’s religious rights in Israel with an apologetic remark, “”I realize it’s not easy to fully grasp the dynamics of what happens in a foreign land.”
Let’s stop right there for a minute.
She is the only artist ever to receive an Academy Award, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globe, National Medal of Arts and Peabody Awards and France’s Legion d’honneur as well as the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Streisand is the recipient of two Oscars, five Emmys, 10 Grammies, a Tony and 12 Golden Globes including the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The three films she directed received 14 Oscar nominations.
She holds an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Humanities from Brandeis University. She received The Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign and was awarded the ACLU Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union for her defense of U.S. constitutional rights.
On Monday, she received an honorary PhD from Hebrew University, where, just by coincidence, she contributed a huge sum of money for a building in memory of her father Emanuel, whom she praised as “a teacher, scholar and religious man who devoted himself to education.”
Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University, said, “Her love of Israel and her Jewish heritage are reflected in so many aspects of her life and career.” University officials described her as “a close friend of Israel.”
Okay. Now we have her credentials for her declaring, in a “foreign land,” that it “is 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 thrown at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray.”
Streisand loves Israel, so much so that she is visiting the country for the first time in, let me count, 29 years.
There is no doubt she really does love Israel. Almost every Jew, even those who call it an Apartheid state, say they love Israel.
And like every other Jew, not to mention the non-Jews, Streisand thinks she knows what is best for Israel.
Once an American becomes Secretary of State, or a super star in sports or entertainment, or filthy rich, or gives money to Israel, he or she usually realizes that produces instant wisdom concerning Israel.
At least Streisand had the decency to be honest by unintentionally make herself look awkward, stating that Israel is “a foreign land” to her understanding.
She spoke the truth, more than most if not all other foreigners.
Israel indeed is foreign, even to Jews, who feel filled with spirit at the Western Wall but can’t tell the difference between an Arab and a Sephardi Jew, between an “anti-suicide bomber security fence” and an “Apartheid Wall,” and between a settler and a Jew from Tel Aviv.
Streisand’s comments were not so far off the mark, except that they were totally redundant and damaging to Israel in that they simply broadcast exceptions as a rule.
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.
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 percent age point of buses and is on its way to the recycle bin.
After addressing both issues that already are old and irrelevant news, she admitted, “Repairs are being made, and that’s very good.”
Streisand, as a good liberal Jew who is visiting Israel to sing at the Israeli Presidential Conference Tuesday night, undoubtedly is undergoing a spiritual experience this week.