Natalie Portman Breaks Silence On Prize Snub — And BDS by the Forward

Natalie Portman Breaks Silence On Prize Snub — And BDS

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Natalie Portman says she refused to visit Israel to receive a $2 million prize as a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and because of Israeli “atrocities” — but insisted she doesn’t back the boycott of the Jewish state.

The Hollywood superstar said she didn’t want to seem to be endorsing the escalating violence against the Palestinians by meeting Netanyahu at a gala for the Genesis Prize, which is sometimes called the “Jewish Nobel.”

“The mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values,” Portman said. “Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.

Despite scrapping the trip, the “Black Swan” actress insisted that she does not back the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement against Israel.

“I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it,” she said in a statement released late Friday just before the start of Shabbat. “Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation.”

Mentioning that Israel just celebrated its 70th birthday, she suggested that the Jewish state should stand against oppression since it was born in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Portman, who was born in Jerusalem and moved to the U.S. with her family as a toddler, pointedly denounced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said she did not want to appear with him at the gala to accept the award.

“I did not want to appear as endorsing … Netanyahu,” she said.

She stressed that she had no intention of abandoning Israel or shunning its culture.

“I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance,” she said.


Dave Goldiner

Dave Goldiner

Dave Goldiner is the Forward’s director of digital media. Dave is a veteran journalist who has spent two decades working at newspapers in the United States and Africa. A native New Yorker, Goldiner wrote for the New York Daily News, where he covered some of the biggest stories of our time, including the attacks of September 11, along with thousands of stories of hope and heartbreak. He also studied and worked in Southern Africa and has written for publications in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He holds masters degrees in journalism and public administration from Columbia University. Dave can be reached at, or follow him on Twitter @davegoldiner

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Natalie Portman Breaks Silence On Prize Snub — And BDS

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