After the Oscar-winning actress and one of the most committed daughters of Israel refused to fetch the “Jewish Nobel Prize,” worth $2 million in Israel, due to her distress over the “recent events”, local MP demands more distress for her. Major storm on Twitter follows her decision.
MP Oren Hazan, representing the center-right Likud party in the Knesset, demanded that the Hollywood star Natalie Portman be stripped of her Israeli citizenship after she blew off the ceremony of the Genesis Prize, dubbed the “Jewish Nobel.”
“Portman has no problems exploiting her Jewish roots to promote her career as well as expressing her pride for deferring from service [in Jewish Army]. And there are respected people who thought that she deserves the award, named the ‘Jewish Nobel Prize.’ But this is ‘The End’ title: Minister [Aryeh] Deri should take away her Israeli citizenship,” Hazan posted on Twitter.
The American actress, who was born in Israel with the name Hershlag and has been known for her commitment to her Jewish heritage, initially agreed to come to Israel this June to get $2 million for being “an inspiration to the next generation of Jews” for her professional achievements; later, however, she backed out of it.
The statement of Portman’s publicist, distributed by the organizing foundation, reads that “[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 “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”
The announcement doesn’t specify what exactly made Portman change her mind. But her decision followed the latest violent clashes on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli defense forces opened fire on Palestinian protesters, killing several. The move was condemned by the UN and the EU as disproportionally violent.
After Portman’s refusal, the Genesis Prize Foundation decided to cancel the ceremony, stating that the organizers “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.” However, it remains unclear if the actress would still get the 2 million dollar prize.
While the Foundation said it was “very saddened” with Portman’s decision, Culture Minister Miri Regev also expressed her regret. According to the newspaper Times of Israel, she said that that the Hollywood star had “fallen like ripe fruit into the hands of BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] campaign supporters, whose goal is to isolate the Jewish state.” “Natalie, a Jewish actress who was born in Israel, joins those who relate to the story of the success and the wondrous rebirth of Israel as a story of darkness,” she said.
The range of emotions on Twitter also varies from full support to anger and disappointment.
Some praise her move as a brave act.
Some slammed her for “caving in to political correctness” and expressed disappointment.
Others found her not decisive enough.
Incidentally, the award money was doubled specifically for Portman this year. The Genesis Prize, which is to “honor 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,” usually equals $1 million. Those who get the prize may donate it to the charities of their choice. It was established by Russian businessmen with Jewish roots, including the banker Mikhail Friedman. The list of recipients of $1 million prize includes artist Anish Kapoor, violinist Itzhak Perlman, former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg and Hollywood star Michael Douglas.