News24

Clinton criticism sparks Israeli anger

2011-12-04 20:27

Jerusalem - Israeli ministers reacted angrily on Sunday after local media quoted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying she feared for the future of Israel's democracy and the rights of women in the Jewish state.

Clinton's remarks, reportedly made on Saturday behind closed doors at the Saban Forum in Washington, made headlines in most Israeli newspapers, which reported them without explaining how they obtained the comments.

Top-selling Yediot Aharonot said Clinton had expressed concern about a slew of "anti-democratic" bills proposed by right-wing members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

And the newspaper said Clinton had described shock at hearing that some buses in Jerusalem were gender segregated and some religious Israeli soldiers refused to attend events where women would sing.

The comments sparked a quick backlash in Jerusalem, where Israeli ministers holding a weekly cabinet meeting accused Clinton of hyperbole.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called Clinton's remarks "totally exaggerated", Israeli media reported.

"Israel is a living, breathing liberal democracy," he said.

Steinitz reportedly acknowledged that gender segregation was a problem in Israel, "but to claim there is a threat on Israeli democracy is a big stretch."

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan also acknowledged some concerns about growing calls for gender segregation by Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, but suggested Clinton direct her attention elsewhere.

"Elected officials all over the world should first worry about their problems at home," he said.

And Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, defended the Jewish state, saying it remained the "only democracy in the Middle East".

"I assume that whatever will be done here will be within the measure of the law," local media quoted him as saying.

Israeli lawmakers have in recent months championed a series of bills criticised by local rights groups as an attempt to rein in left-leaning NGOs and journalists.

Among the most controversial of the proposed laws is one that would limit foreign funding for certain NGOs - legislation that leftist activists say targets groups opposed to Israeli occupation that report on violations of Palestinian human rights.

That bill has already attracted international criticism, and Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Sunday that the US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, had relayed Washington's concerns about the legislation to Netanyahu's staff.

A similar message was relayed by Germany's ambassador several weeks earlier, the newspaper said.

Comments
  • Johan - 2011-12-04 21:07

    Hillary has to say something controversial. She has'nt been in the news much lately.

      Dirk - 2011-12-04 21:21

      Absolutely absurd, but coming from a Clinton. Expressing her concern about womens rights in Israel while the women in arab states have NO rights. Does she the world is stupid?

      Barry - 2011-12-04 21:29

      Everyone else gets screwed by the yanks. Why not Israel. It is about time.

  • Jaba - 2011-12-04 21:11

    What a joke! The queen mother of the Whitewater scandal is concerned over Israeli democracy. Remember the matter of the subpoena that was served upon her when her husband was in the White House? She initially claimed that she had retained no papers. Then, two years later, she opened a closet door and "Oh, look what I found!" All her documents concerning the Whitewater transaction. Of course, Vince Foster was already dead by then -- killed by a "self-inflicted" gunshot wound to the back of the head. Mrs. Clinton is a ruthless, self-serving b**h who thinks she is above the law. She is the last person on earth to express concern over any country's democracy, given how she has always run roughshod over American democratic principles.

      Dirk - 2011-12-04 21:24

      Not to mention that her fellow crook and husband, plundered the White House before they had to vacate it. Clinton also excused his criminal friends before leaving office.

  • Boaz - 2011-12-04 21:36

    better she fear the plight of women in Egypt! It's funny how concerned Hillary is about the women of Israel but she never mentions the women of Gaza, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. Israel is one of the first countries in the modern world to have had a female head of state (something the U.S. hasn't had yet). As disgusted as I am with the issue of segregation, it is a very local situation and Israelis as a whole don't agree with this practice. BIG news out of nothing... again

      Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-04 22:45

      Israil is a country of discrimination ... Look at how they treated indiginuous people(palastians) after they occupied their land. So its apatheid of middle east.

      Dirk - 2011-12-05 05:33

      Why did she not express herself om the Iranian actress who got 90 lashes with a whip for acting or the Saudi woman who got 10 for driving a car. The palastinians indiginous? What a laugh! Most of them originate from the surrounding countries, and that is precisely the problem. They could solve the ground issue over night if they wanted to but insist that Israel with the least ground, do so. Of course, Israeli ground is mostly developed, while Mohammed and his friends have been having a siesta in the desert sun.

  • cosmos.ndebele - 2011-12-04 22:13

    There is no longer a thing like "the only democracy in the region"

  • Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-04 22:32

    What a complete joke! ! How could hilary cliton worried about women rigts in israil, while palastian women and children are being massacred by sophisticated artilary machine guns on daily basis,.may be palastians have no rights ,in this world, as human being.

      Dirk - 2011-12-05 05:36

      Welcome back to earth. I gather that you have been floating in space for the last 50 yrs, May I suggest that you familiarise yourself with the situation before making ill informed comments.

  • Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-04 22:32

    What a complete joke! ! How could hilary cliton worried about women rigts in israil, while palastian women and children are being massacred by sophisticated artilary machine guns on daily basis,.may be palastians have no rights ,in this world, as human being.

  • Caaqil Mahadale - 2011-12-04 22:32

    What a complete joke! ! How could hilary cliton worried about women rigts in israil, while palastian women and children are being massacred by sophisticated artilary machine guns on daily basis,.may be palastians have no rights ,in this world, as human being.

  • Garth - 2011-12-05 06:13

    All americans should replace the broken panes of glass in their house(s) before throwing stones at the houses of others. Clinton, especially, should not comment on women's rights anywhere else, until such time as she has successfully applied the rights of women in america. And yes, I do realise that her position entails foreign matters.

      Paul - 2011-12-05 08:39

      Well maybe the USA should stop the $352m handout that Israel receives annually.

      Dirk - 2011-12-05 08:44

      And what do you think will happen if the US, along with other Western countries do the same to SA. Even with their help we are on a slippery slope to oblivion.

  • Tal - 2011-12-05 10:37

    From what I've heard lately, there is a genuine concern with regards to women rights and other anti democratic bills that are being passed or are about to be passed. It is my hope as an Israeli that the orthodox minority will not ruin it for everyone else, with all do respect... Religion has NO place in government. As soon as that happens, one has to start worrying big time. Israel is, and should remain a full on democratic and liberal country with everyone's rights protected under the law. I think we make to many concessions in the name of religion as it is.

  • pages:
  • 1