Likud responds to Natalie Portman's decision

Likud calls Natalie Portman a 'hypocrite,' Genesis Prize says it will distribute prize money to organizations not of Portman's choosing.

JTA, Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman

Israel's leading Likud party responded to Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman's decision not to visit Israel to receive the $2 million Genesis Prize "due to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's policies."

"What a hypocrite!" the Likud said in a statement. "Natalie Portman talks about democracy, but she supported the V15 organization, which attempted, via foreign funding, to skew Israel's democratic elections."

"Portman talks about human rights, but she participates in festivals in countries which censor videos and whose human rights record is far behind that of Israel.

"No excuse will help - Portman simply refuses to accept the decision of Israel's citizens."

Earlier on Saturday, Natalie Portman claimed she was boycotting Netanyahu because of "atrocities" committed in Israel on his watch, but emphasized that she would not shun Israel.

The Jerusalem-born director and actor, posting Friday night on Instagram, explained her decision not to accept in person the $2 million Genesis Prize, which calls itself the "Jewish Nobel." The prize foundation had the day before announced Portman’s decision not to attend 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," said Portman, who in 2011 won a best actress Oscar. "By the same token, I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it."

"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. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power."

She did not explain what she was referring to by "atrocities."

In the wake of Portman’s decision, the Genesis Prize Foundation said it would distribute the $2 million to women’s rights groups, but not those of Portman’s choosing. Winners of the prize, which "honors individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement along with their commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people," conventionally donate the prize money to charitable causes of their choosing.

On Friday, Likud MK Oren Hazan called on Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) to strip Portman of her Israeli citizenship.

"[She is] a Jewish Israeli, who on the one hand cynically uses her birthplace to advance her career and on the other is proud of the fact that she managed to avoid enlisting in the IDF. She's an actress, but she is unworthy of any honor in the State of Israel....She...has no real connection to the State."