Natalie Portman Backs Out Of Israel Award Ceremony Due To “Distressing Recent Events”
Natalie Portman has decided to pull out of attending an awards ceremony in Jerusalem, due to the distress from the country’s recent events.
The actress, who is a dual Israeli-American citizen, was to receive a prestigious award in Israel in June. A representative of Portman then told the Genesis Prize Foundation that the actress did not “not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel.” She also included that the “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing” to her.
Following her announcement that she was no longer attending the event, the Genesis Foundation expressed that they were “very saddened” over her decision and that they would cancel the June 28 ceremony. “We fear that Ms. Portman’s decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid,” their statement read. It is unknown if Portman will still recieve the $2 million prize money.
The prize was founded in 2013 to commemorate Jewish achievements and contributions to humanity. Previous recipients for the prize include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Michael Douglas.
Israel has been facing international criticism due to their use of lethal force against mass protests along the Gaza border, which is being led by an Islamic militant group that rules the territory.
Since March, over three dozen Palentinians have been killed and hundreds injured by the Israeli forces. Israel believes that they are only using such force to defend their borders and accuse the militant group, Hamas, for carrying out attacks behind the protests.
The Culture Minister of Israel Miri Regev released a statement on Friday saying that Portman “has fallen like a ripe fruit into the hands of BDS supporters.” Regev was referring to a Palestinian-led movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Lawmaker from the centrist Kulanu party, Rachel Azaria, believes that that Portman’s decision is a symbol to the declining suppport the country is getting from young American Jews.
“The cancellation by Natalie Portman needs to light warning signs,” Azaria said in a statement. “She is totally one of us. She identifies with her Jewishness and Israeli-ness. She is expressing now the voices of many in U.S. Jewry, mainly those of the young generation. This is a community that was always a significant anchor for the state of Israel. The price of losing them could be too high.”
Portman has always been proud of her heritage and where she came from. When it was announced she was the 2018 recipient she said in a statement that she was “proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage.”