Natalie Portman snubs Israel after its deadly Gaza crackdown

Natalie Portman snubs Israeli ceremony after crackdown on Gaza protests
2 min read
20 April, 2018
US actress Natalie Portman has pulled out of a ceremony in Israel to receive the "Jewish Nobel Prize" over extreme distress over recent events in the country.

Thirty-four Palestinians have recently been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces [Getty]

US actress Natalie Portman has pulled out of a ceremony in Israel to receive the "Jewish Nobel Prize" over extreme distress over recent events in the country.

The Jerusalem-born Oscar winner, who is this year's recipient of the Genesis Prize, cancelled her attendance at the event, a representative of Portman told the Genesis foundation on Thursday.

"Recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel," a statement said.

"She cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony," it added.

The statement failed to refer to specific events that would have prompted Portman's decision.

However, thirty-four Palestinians have recently been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces in mass protests on the Gaza-Israel border. There have been no Israeli casualties.

European Union and UN chief Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation into the use of live fire against the unarmed protesters, who have been calling for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.

Israel has claimed it is defending its border and accuses Gaza's rulers, the Islamic Hamas group, of trying to carry out attacks under the guise of protests.

The Genesis foundation said it was "very saddened" by Portman's decision and that it had cancelled the event in response to the US-Israeli actress pulling out.

"We fear that Ms Portman's decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicised, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid," it said.

Israel's culture minister Miri Regev slammed Portman's move on Friday, saying she had "fallen into the hands" of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which advocates boycotts against Israel.

Lawmaker Oren Hazan has called for the actress to be stripped of her Israeli citizenship.

A few politically active musicians have called off shows in Israel over the past years, including Lorde, Lauryn Hill and Elvis Costello.

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism - a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.