Natalie Portman Declines Award And Cancels Her Trip To Israel

The Genesis Prize Foundation had to cancel their annual ceremony after honoree Natalie Portman refused to go to Israel and accept her prize.

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

The Genesis Prize Foundation had to cancel their annual ceremony after honoree Natalie Portman refused to go to Israel and accept her prize.

Natalie Portman has decided to decline receiving the Genesis Prize and has canceled her trip to accept the award in Israel, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The Genesis Prize goes to people who “inspire others through their dedication to the Jewish community and Jewish values.” It has gone to celebrities like Michael Douglas, Itzhak Perlman, and more. The Genesis Prize Foundation announced they’d be awarding Portman with the honor this year back in November.

However, Portman has decided not to attend the event or accept the Genesis Prize in Jerusalem in June, so the foundation has canceled the event altogether.

According to Reuters, Portman decided to pull out because “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel.”

The recent events Portman was alluding to were the violent protests over the last few weeks. Israel recently caused major controversy during the Palestinian protests on the Gaza-Israel border, where 35 people were killed.

The Foundation put out a statement saying they respected Portman for her work and activism and that she had a right to disagree with Israel’s policies, but that they were upset that Portman’s decision to cancel her trip for political reasons might cause their foundation and mission to become politicized as well.

Natalie Portman speaking at the American Cinematheque Awards Gala in 2017.
Natalie Portman has refused to go to Israel to receive an award. Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

However, the Israeli ministry struck a harsher tone. As Reuters reports, culture minister Miri Regev said Portman “fell like a ripe fruit into the hands of supporters of the BDS.” Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said Portman was “duped by Hamas propaganda” and offered to have Portman tour the Gaza border to see Israel’s side of the protests.

The ministry also wrote a letter to Portman saying that she was “influenced by the campaign of media misinformation and lies regarding Gaza orchestrated by the Hamas terrorist group.”

However, PACBI, which fights for the BDS movement, applauded Portman for pulling out of the event. They said that Israel’s violence against the Palestinian protesters was so terrible that even Israeli-American celebrities like Portman “now refuse to blatantly whitewash, or art-wash, Israeli crimes and apartheid policies,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Portman was born in Jerusalem and moved to the United States when she was 3-years-old. But she has been speaking out against the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more and more in recent years. Back during the 2015 election, for example, Portman accused Netanyahu of racism and admitted that she thinks that Israelis need to look at what’s wrong with their country.