Natalie Portman explains why she rejected state honour from Israel

Natalie Portman has spoken out about her decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony, an award that is given annually to Jewish people who have attained recognition and excellence in their fields.

The actress was named as the 2018 Genesis Prize Laureate in November 2017, but earlier this month after Portman said through a representative that she didn’t feel comfortable participating in public events in Israel due to “recent events” (via New York Times).

The prize ceremony was later cancelled as a result.

In an Instagram post, Portman has now clarified her decision, saying that she doesn’t want to appear to be endorsing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was due to give a speech at the event, or the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

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.

A post shared by Natalie Portman (@natalieportman) on

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.

A post shared by Natalie Portman (@natalieportman) on

“My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others,” Natalie explained.

“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.”

She continued: “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.”

The Genesis Prize ceremony is held annually in Jerusalem, with actor Michael Douglas and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg among those who have previously received the award since 2014.

Portman recently starred in Alex Garland’s Annihilation, which is available to stream on Netflix.

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