(April 20, 2018 / JNS) Hollywood Actress and director Natalie Portman, who once said that she would not “you know, s**t on Israel,” has announced that she did not “feel comfortable” accepting an esteemed award in the Jewish state due to “recent events.”
The Genesis Prize, akin to a “Jewish Nobel,” is handed out annually in Israel to “honor individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement, along with their commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people.” And this year, it comes with a $2 million prize, double that of previous years.
The award foundation said it was “very saddened” to have received word from Portman’s representatives that “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her, and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel,” and that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”
Despite Portman’s rejection of the award ceremony, the Genesis Prize Foundation told Haaretz that she did not intend to return her prize money, nor the $2 million matching grant she was promised by Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn.
As is the custom among Genesis Prize winners, Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, planned to donate her prize money to charity. She had already notified the foundation that she would give her award to international and Israeli causes dedicated to women.
In a statement following the Genesis Prize announcement in November, Portman said she is “proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage.”
The 36-year-old has previous stood against the BDS movement, protesting efforts to keep the Toronto International Film Festival from staging a Tel Aviv-themed event in 2009.
Portman came out as “very, very upset and disappointed” when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was elected in 2015, but said she did not “want to use my platform [in the wrong way] and “you know, s**t on Israel.”