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Natalie Portman - I am not attending $1m Israeli prize ceremony because of Bibi, not BDS

Actress says: 'I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation'

    Natalie Portman has defended her decision not to travel to Israel to accept the "Jewish Nobel Prize", saying she could not share a platform with Benjamin Netanyahu. 

    On Thursday, the Genesis Foundation - which awards the $1 million prize to “extraordinary individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews”- expressed regret that the actress would not participate in the June ceremony, which has since been cancelled.

    The foundation said the actress's representative had issued a statement saying she had been extremely distressed by recent events in Israel.

    Widespread criticism of Ms Portman included calls for her Israeli citizenship to be revoked.

    Culture Minister Miri Regev commented: "I was sad to hear that Portman fell like a ripe fruit into the hands of BDS supporters." 

    But in a clarifying statement, Ms Portman said: “I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony.

    “Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation. I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance.”

    Ms Portman had notified the foundation that she planned to donate the prize money  to international and Israeli organisations dedicated to women’s causes. Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn - who had promised her an additional $1 million - has criticised her decision not to attend.

    Past recipients of the prize include Michael Bloomberg, Michael Douglas and Itzhak Perlman.

     


     

     

     

     

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