Natalie Portman, the Israeli-born Oscar-winning actress, has informed a prominent pro-Israel foundation that she will not attend their event and claim its most coveted prize due to Israel’s recent efforts to prevent Hamas terrorists from killing Jewish citizens, according to an announcement.
The Genesis Prize Foundation, which awards internationally renowned individuals for their commitment to Jewish values, announced late Thursday that Portman would "not to travel to Israel for the June 28 Ceremony organized in her honor," according to a statement from the organization.
Portman’s camp appears to believe that Israel’s recent efforts to combat attacks on its border from Hamas terrorists and affiliated militants have created an environment that is not compatible with her appearance in the Jewish state for the award.
"A representative of Ms. Portman notified our Foundation that: ‘Recent 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,’" according to a press statement. "After a number of conversations with Ms. Portman and her representatives, we have been advised that Ms. Portman’s decision is firm and will not be changed."
While Portman, perhaps best known for her work alongside Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace, has positioned herself as a proud supporter of Israel, it appears she will not step foot in the country as a result of recent efforts by Israel to secure its borders against unlawful intruders, who have been met with a violent response in recent weeks after they stormed the Israeli border and took aim at Jewish forces.
Representatives for Portman did not respond to a request for comment.
Portman’s refusal to travel to Israel has resulted in the award ceremony being cancelled.
"As a result of Ms. Portman’s decision, we have no choice but to cancel the Genesis Prize Ceremony," the group said in its statement. "We extend our apologies to everyone who has been inconvenienced by this decision and appreciate the support you have shown by registering for the Ceremony."
The organization chose Portman for her work upholding the advancement of women’s rights and philanthropy.
"We want to conclude by saying that Ms. Portman is a highly accomplished actress, a committed social activist and a wonderful human being," the group said in the announcement communicating Portman’s refusal to enter the Jewish state. "The staff of our Foundation has enjoyed getting to know her over the past six months, admires her humanity, and respects her right to publicly disagree with the policies of the government of Israel. However, we are very saddened that she has decided not to attend the Genesis Prize Ceremony in Jerusalem for political reasons. We fear that Ms. Portman’s decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid."
In a statement released Friday, Portman said her decision had been "mischaracterized." She explained that her decision to reject the Genesis Prize was made because Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be present at the ceremony.
"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," Portman said. "Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation."
She went on, however, to put blame on Israel for "atrocities."
"The mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values," she said. "Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power."
Update, Monday, April 23 11:50 a.m.: This piece has been updated to include a statement made by Portman.