Natalie Portman Refuses to Receive a "Jewish Nobel Prize"
By Emiliya Strahilova/Arab America Contributing Writer
Jewish-American actress and human rights activist Natali Portman won the most prestigious Jewish award The Genesis Prize, but she canceled the ceremony for accepting it. As her representatives announced, “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel”, therefore, “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”.
She didn’t clarify further which events she was talking about, although most probably she referred to the protests at the Gaza strip and the murdering of more than 30 Palestinians by the Israeli forces in the last few weeks. By demonstrating her position, the Oscar-winning actress joined a long list of celebrities boycotting Israel.
The Genesis Prize is considered to be The Jewish Nobel Prize. It recognizes individuals who achieved excellence in their fields and inspire the Jewish communities. The nomination process is worldwide and it projects “the many faces and forms of Jewish nationhood in the modern world.” The Genesis Prize is an initiative which supports noble causes such as inclusion for people with disabilities and providing relief for refugees. Regardless, it’s still entangled with Government politics.
Notable Israeli public figures responded rapidly and judged Natalie Portman’s position. The minister of culture Miri Regev said that she was sorry to hear that the Hollywood star “has fallen like a ripe fruit into the hands of BDS supporters”. Another popular Jewish lawmaker Rachel Azaria was alarmed: “The cancellation by Natalie Portman needs to light warning signs,” Azaria said in a statement, “She is totally one of us. She identifies with her Jewishness and Israeli-ness. She is expressing now the voices of many in U.S. Jewry, mainly those of the young generation. This is a community that was always a significant anchor for the state of Israel. The price of losing them could be too high.”. Oren Hazan from the Likud party went even further and initiated propaganda for pulling out Natalie Portman’s Israeli citizenship. He suggested that she has no connection with the state because she left at the age of four.
Yup, this is exactly how any normal democracy would respond to the tiniest act of dissent. https://t.co/G9TLP5esbm
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) April 20, 2018
The news that Natalie Portman is the 2018 Genesis Laurate came in 2017. In the official press release, the awards foundation distinguished the actress as an “outstanding Jew of our time”. She returned the gesture and confirmed that she’s proud of her Jewish roots and it’s a privilege to use “this global platform” for making a difference in the lives of women in Israel and beyond. Afterward, the Israeli entrepreneur and humanitarian Morris Kahn doubled the $1 million dollars worth of the prize and honored Natalie Portman with $1 million dollars more. The biggest to date financial endowment, given by the Genesis Foundation, might still be accepted by her and re-gifted to other women and organizations, according to sources close to her.
Morris Kahn (left) donates $1 million to Genesis Prize Foundation.
Natalie Portman’s decision sparkled the web. Pro-Palestinians were euphoric and grateful, while other groups were looking for a conspiracy. However, this is not the first time the actress expressed criticism towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She never wanted to take it too far before, though.
Israeli actress Natalie Portman refused to receive a prize from the State of Israel, she said she was ashamed of the country.
But to get a prize from China, where Body Parts of prisoners are sold, it was no problem for her https://t.co/0ToA5MQhyb
— Yanki יענקי פרבר (@Farberyanki) April 20, 2018
Flashback: They decided to give Portman this prize in the first place only after telling Ruth Bader Ginsburg they would give it to her and then yanking it because Netanyahu’s office thought it would annoy Trump. https://t.co/RMcWEtpg0c
— Josh Nathan-Kazis (@joshnathankazis) April 20, 2018
Detroit Arab American activist Ronald Amen shared his observations on this hot topic with Arab America:
“Many other Hollywood stars have voiced the same opinion regarding Israel’s occupation and treatment of Palestinians, but you’ll only hear about them on the Internet. I have not heard one word about Portman declining to attend the ceremony on any of the major news outlets. She is not joining or supporting the BDS movement, but she does have a problem with Netanyahu and his policies. She still supports the Zionist entity. She will accept the million dollar prize which is awarded to a charity of her choice and not given to her personally IF they actually award her with the money.”
He concluded by saying: “It is interesting to note that since Trump has become President, Israel makes no attempt to justify its assassinations of Palestinians. Quite the opposite, they now publicly congratulate their military murderers for their kills, knowing that there will be no blowback from the American leadership.”.