(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Actor, producer, and humanitarian activist Michael Douglas received the Genesis Prize from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony held in Jerusalem on Thursday.
The ceremony, hosted by former television talk show host Jay Leno, was attended by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Douglas’s wife actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, Genesis Prize Foundation CEO Stan Polovets, and cultural and government figures from Israel and abroad.
The award, which doubled to $2 million thanks to a donation from billionaire philanthropist Roman Abramovich, was given to Douglas for his professional accomplishments and his commitment to the Jewish legacy and to Israel. The award will be dedicated to promoting awareness on the importance of openness and diversity in the Jewish world.
“We have succeeded in maintaining our values and democracy in the only Jewish country in the world,” Netanyahu said. “Israel is being unjustly criticized, but those days when Jews kept their heads down are long gone. Today we have the ability to resist.”
After being greeted with loud applause, Douglas said, “It feels good to be at home again. I am proud to be a Jew.”
Douglas, who was not raised with any religious affiliation, is the son of Jewish Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas. In recent years, the younger Douglas has identified as a Reform Jew, and his son Dylan celebrated a bar mitzvah in Jerusalem last year.
Earlier this week, Douglas expressed concern about the growing danger of nuclear weapons and the threat of boycotts targeting Israel during an address to hundreds of young Jewish leaders at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv.
“I am a U.N. ambassador for peace and I would like to say that from my experience the biggest problem in the world are nuclear weapons,” Douglas said.