April 20, 2018
Actress Natalie Portman has announced that she is boycotting all public events in Israel, and will not attend the June awards ceremony of the so-called "Jewish Nobel" prize there despite winning the honor, the Genesis Prize Foundation said Thursday.
Natalie Portman snubs Jewish Nobel in apparent protest against Israel
The foundation said it was informed by Portman's representative that the Jerusalem-born Oscar winner feels that "recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her" and that "she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony."
As a result, Portman "does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel," the Genesis foundation said.
The prize ceremony will reportedly be cancelled as a result of Portman's decision.
Israel has come under increasing scrutiny for its response to mass protests on the Gaza-Israel border, in which 28 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli fire since March 30.
Earlier this month, Israel's top defense official praised the sniper who shot a motionless Palestinian near the Gaza fence in a video that circulated widely on Monday, saying he "deserves a medal."
The demonstrations at the border are a new attempt by Hamas to break a crippling, decade-old Gaza border blockade by Israel and Egypt that's made it increasingly difficult for the Islamic militant group to govern.
The Genesis foundation said it was "very saddened" by Portman's decision. "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," it said.
The prize was launched in 2013 to recognize Jewish achievement and contributions to humanity. Previous recipients include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Michael Douglas, violinist Itzhak Perlman and sculptor Anish Kapoor.
When Portman was announced late last year as the 2018 recipient, she said in a statement released by organizers at the time that she was "proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage."
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