Natalie Portman Rejects Israel Prize in Light of its Crimes in Gaza
In a statement the Hollywood star said “[r]ecent 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.”
April 19, 2018 — After decades of egregious human rights violations against Palestinians, Israel’s recent massacre of peaceful protesters in Gaza has made its brand so toxic that even well-known Israeli-American cultural figures, like Natalie Portman, now refuse to blatantly whitewash, or art-wash, Israeli crimes and apartheid policies.
The Palestinian-led, Nobel Peace Prize nominated Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights has been growing in the cultural mainstream in the last few years. Of the twenty six Oscar nominees in 2016, none has accepted an all-expense-paid Israeli propaganda junket.
Towards the end of 2017, the New Zealand star Lorde heeded appeals from BDS activists and announced the cancellation of a gig in Tel Aviv. In response to an ugly smear campaign against her run by Israel lobby figures in the US, over one hundred artists, including Hollywood stars, signed a letter in the Guardian supporting her.
As a Washington Post report on Lorde’s act of solidarity with Palestinians concluded:
Lorde will almost certainly be one of the last major artists to schedule an Israel concert date without appearing to have fully considered the global implications. From now on … merely scheduling a concert date in Israel will be considered a political act.
Portman’s rebuff to Israeli honors underlines this conclusion.
As was the case in the struggle against apartheid South Africa, the BDS movement calls on all artists and cultural figures to respect the nonviolent Palestinian picket line and stay away from apartheid Israel until the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people are fully respected.
The BDS-holes may want to put away the balloons and streamers – in her explanation of her decision, Portman has gone out of her way to distance herself from the BDS movement and what they stand for.
Actress Natalie Portman on Friday explained her decision to snub a prestigious Israeli 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.
The Jerusalem-born Portman was to have received the award in Israel in June and said in a statement issued late Friday that her reasons for skipping the ceremony had been “mischaracterized” by others.
“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.
“I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it,” she said, referring to a Palestinian-led global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. “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.”
While I still believe Portman’s decision is wrongheaded, and has led me to lose a lot of respect for her, it is good to know she has not fully gone over to the Dark Side.