Rabat – Natalie Portman isn’t happy about Israel’s policy concerning “recent events.” The Hollywood actress born in Israel has refused to attend the “Genesis Prize” ceremony to accept her million-dollar prize.
The Genesis Award Foundation announced the cancellation of the ceremony on Friday, explaining that Portman would not make the trip because of recent events “extremely painful” for her related to Israel, which prevented her from “taking part with a free conscience.”
The foundation said it “admires her humanity, and respects her right to publicly disagree with the policies of the government of Israel.”
The Genesis award is annually given to Jewish people who have attained recognition and excellence in their fields.
The prize was created with the objective of inspiring and developing a sense of pride and belonging among young unaffiliated Jews throughout the world, according to the Genesis Prize Foundation. The award is sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Nobel Prize.”
The 36-year-old actress didn’t want to be associated with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was supposed to speak at the ceremony.
“My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others,” said Portman, referring to links drawn between Portman’s decision and larger social protests against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
“Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu,” she said in a statement.
The 2010 Oscar winner explained that she has the right to be critical of the leadership in Israel “without wanting to boycott the entire nation.”
“The mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power,” she added.
Netanyahu’s Likud party reacted to Portman’s statements Saturday night, denouncing the “hypocrisy” of the actress. In a statement, the prime minister accused Natalie Portman of “talking about human rights while participating in festivals in countries that censor films and whose respect for human rights is much lower than that of Israel.”
Moreover, Israel’s Minister of Infrastructure, Energy and Water, Yuval Steinitz discibred Portman’s attitude bordering on anti-Semitism.
“She plays the game of the haters of Israel and those who seek to destroy the State of Israel,” he added.
My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others. Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. By the same token, I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation. I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power. Please do not take any words that do not come directly from me as my own. This experience has inspired me to support a number of charities in Israel. I will be announcing them soon, and I hope others will join me in supporting the great work they are doing.