(JTA) — Israel’s culture minister said actress Natalie Portman has “fallen like a ripe fruit into the hands of the BDS movement supporters” over her refusal to come to Israel to receive an award.
Miri Regev’s assertion Friday about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and Portman, an Israeli-born Jew, followed news Thursday that Portman would not receive in person what the Genesis Prize Foundation calls the “Jewish Nobel” at a ceremony scheduled for June.
The foundation said that it had been notified by Portman’s representative that “[r]ecent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel” and that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”
Portman did not specify which events caused her distress. The United Nations and the European Union recently called for investigations into the use of live ammunition by the Israel Defense Forces during riots along the Gaza border, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced criticism at home for backing out of an agreement that would have allowed a large number of African asylum seekers to remain in Israel.
The Genesis Prize announced it was canceling its prize ceremony in Israel due to Portman’s announcement.
On Thursday, the foundation said in a statement that it was “very saddened” that the Israeli-American actress would not take part in the ceremony.
Portman’s statement did not indicate that she supports or heeded the BDS movement. In 2009, Portman joined other Hollywood stars in protesting calls for a boycott against the Toronto International Film Festival for its staging of a Tel Aviv-themed event. She also directed and starred in a Hebrew-language adaptation of Israeli novelist Amos Oz’s memoir, “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”
In her statement, Regev wrote that by opting out of the ceremony, Portman is “joining those who treat the story of the success and the miracle of Israel’s revival as a tale of darkness and darkness.”
In a statement following the Genesis Prize announcement in November, Portman said she is “proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage.”
In 2015, following the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she said she was “very, very upset and disappointed.”
“I find his racist comments horrific,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “However, I don’t — what I want to make sure is, I don’t want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there’s some people who become prominent, and then it’s out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not. I don’t want to do that.”