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Helen Mirren condemns BDS movement as she presents Genesis Prize in Jerusalem

    Helen Mirren and Itzhak Perlman in Jerusalem (Photo: Getty)
    Helen Mirren and Itzhak Perlman in Jerusalem (Photo: Getty)

    Helen Mirren has condemned boycotts of Israel declaring her strong belief in the county.

    Speaking at a press event in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the Oscar-winning actor said she was a “believer” in Israel, praising Israeli artists’ contribution to the arts and criticising efforts by pro-Palestinian groups to boycott them.

    She also condemned the decision of some international artists to shun Israel.

    She said: “I think that art is an incredibly important way of communication.

    “The artists of the country are the people you need to communicate with and make a relationship with and learn from and build upon. So I absolutely don’t believe in the boycott, and here I am.”

    Ms Mirren was in Israel to host the Genesis Prize, an award known as the “Jewish Nobel”.

    The $1m award was given to Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman for his accomplishments as a musician, teacher and advocate for the disabled.

    The Genesis Prize was created in 2014 by the Genesis Philanthropy Group in partnership with the Israeli government to honour “exceptional people whose values and achievements will inspire the next generations of Jews”.

    In 2010 the 70-year-old actress played the role of a former Mossad agent in The Debt, a remake of the 2007 Israeli film Ha-hov.

    She also stared in the film Woman in Gold as an elderly Jewish refugee who fought the Austrian government to reclaim a Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis.

    Outside of her acting career, Ms Mirren has said that her connection to Israel dates back to her time volunteering on a kibbutz in 1967.

    She said: “I am a believer in Israel ... I think this is an extraordinary country filled with very, very extraordinary people.

    “It’s just a lucky ... accident in my life that I have had this privilege.”

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