LOS ANGELES: Hollywood actress Natalie Portman has snubbed a prestigious prize known as the “Jewish Nobel,” saying she did not want her attendance to be seen as an endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Portman was to have received the award in Israel in June and said in a statement issued early Saturday that her reasons for skipping the ceremony had been mischaracterised by others, and she is not part of the BDS, a Palestinian-led global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
News of Portman’s decision to skip the event triggered an angry backlash Friday from some in the country’s political establishment.
That was due to reports that Portman through a representative had told the Genesis Prize Foundation she was experiencing “extreme distress” over attending its ceremony and would “not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel.”
Portman’s statement said her decision had been mischaracterised.
“Let me speak for myself. 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,” she wrote.
“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.’”
She asked people to “not take any words that do not come directly from me as my own.”
Israel faces some international criticism over its use of lethal force in response to mass protests along the Gaza border led by the Islamic militant group that rules the territory.
One Israeli lawmaker warned that Portman’s decision is a sign of eroding support for Israel among young American Jews.