Portman, Natalie: Oscar Winner Rejects Israel’s Genesis Prize

Oscar winner actress Natalie Portman has decided against receiving an honor in Israel and canceled her trip to accept the prize.

The Genesis Prize, which honors notable individuals “who inspire others through their dedication to the Jewish community and Jewish values,” has canceled its annual ceremony in Israel in June following the actress’ apparent decision to not take part in the event. Portman had been announced as the honoree last November by the organization.

“Ms. Portman is a highly accomplished actress, a committed social activist and a wonderful human being. The staff of the Foundation enjoyed getting to know her over the past six months, admires her humanity, and respects her right to publicly disagree with the policies of the government of Israel,” read a statement from the Genesis Prize Foundation.

The Foundation added: “However, we are very saddened that she has decided not to attend the Genesis Prize Ceremony in Jerusalem for political reasons. We fear that Ms. Portman’s decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid.”

Portman’s rep declined to immediately comment.

Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, has openly criticized Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past, saying in 2015 interview, “I’m very much against Netanyahu. Against.  I am very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected.”

Increased pressure for visiting artists or prominent personalities planning to visit Israel has been applied by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions group, which protests the Jewish state over its treatment of the Palestinians and the West Bank.

When 26 Oscar nominees were given Israel tour packages as part of their 2017 Oscar swag bags, for instance, BDS urged them not to take the offer and none of the nominees ended up traveling to Israel on the offers.