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Genesis Prize Cancels Ceremony After 2018 Winner Natalie Portman Says Won’t Visit Israel

JERUSALEM — Natalie Portman, the Oscar-winning actress, has backed out of a major award ceremony meant to honor her in Jerusalem, with her representatives citing her distress over “recent events” in Israel.


Ms. Portman did not initially elaborate, leading many to interpret her decision as stemming from the deadly protests along Israel’s border with Gaza, in which about three dozen Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire over the past four weeks. Four more deaths were reported on Friday.

Late Friday, however, she issued a statement saying that her objection was to the scheduled presence of the Israeli prime minister at the ceremony.

“My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others,” Ms. Portman said. “Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Ms. Portman is the latest celebrity to wade into a conflict that has long drawn criticism and protest from actors, musicians and artists critical of Israeli’s actions against Palestinians. Hundreds have endorsed the so-called B.D.S. movement, a pro-Palestinian campaign that calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Portman said ‘recent events in Israel‘ have been ‘extremely distressing,’ making it uncomfortable for her to participate in any public events in Israel

The Genesis Prize announced it was canceling its prize ceremony in Israel in June after 2018 recipient Natalie Portman said she would not take part in light of “recent events.”

On Thursday, the Genesis Prize Foundation, which awards what it calls the “Jewish Nobel,” said it was “very saddened” that the Israeli-American actress would not take part in the ceremony. The foundation said that Portman’s representative notified it 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 that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”

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