Natalie Portman Backs Out Of Israel Award Over 'Recent Events'

Natalie Portman Backs Out Of Israel Award Over 'Recent Events'

Natalie Portman Backs Out Of Israel Award Over 'Recent Events'

According to the Guardian, Portman was selected as the victor of the 2018 Genesis Prize, an annual award given for "outstanding achievement by individuals who have attained excellence and global renown in their chosen professional fields [who] embody the character of the Jewish people".

"From the outset, the idea of granting the Genesis Prize to Natalie Portman was complete craziness", said Likud member Oren Hazan, the Times of Israel reported.

The Genesis Prize Foundation announced Thursday it was canceling its ceremony in Israel after awardee Natalie Portman said she would not attend, citing her "distress" over recent events in the country.

The foundation said it respected Portman's right to disagree with the policies of the Israeli government, but was saddened that political reasons would prevent her participation.

"I am deeply touched and humbled by this honor", Portman said in a statement in November.

Natalie did not specify which "recent events" had motivated her decision not to attend the event, but the United Nations and European Union recently called for investigations into the use of live ammunition by Israel's military, following clashes along the border with Gaza that left dozens of Palestinians dead.

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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. Apart from venting their anger over Portman's decision, many also took offense with the timing, because it comes just days after Israel celebrated the 70th Independence Day.

The Genesis Prize was established by a cadre of wealthy Russian-Jewish businessmen and is a project of the Jewish Agency for Israel as well as the office of the Israeli prime minister.

The representative quoted Portman and said that she "cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony".

"[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", he continued. "I do not. I don't want to do that".

The foundation cancelled the award ceremony scheduled for June 28 due to Portman's decision.

Dubbed the "Jewish Nobel,"the prize was launched in 2013 and has since been awarded to actor Michael Douglas, ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sculptor Anish Kapoor, and violinist Itzhak Perlman".

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