natalie portman

Natalie Portman Pens Statement About Why She Declined Israel's Genesis Prize: "I Must Stand Up Against Violence"

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Natalie Portman, the Jerusalem-born and Oscar-winning actress, had declined Israel's Genesis prize, causing the state's minister of culture and sports to release a statement saying that Portman "has fallen as a ripe fruit in the hands of BDS supporters," aka the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions group. Now, Natalie has released her own statement, clarifying that she is not part of any group, and that her issue is with Israel's leadership and actions, not its existence. Her thoughtful statement, per The Hollywood Reporter, is below:

My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others. Let me speak for myself. 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. 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.

Please do not take any words that do not come directly from me as my own.

This experience has inspired me to support a number of charities in Israel. I will be announcing them soon, and I hope others will join me in supporting the great work they are doing.

The Annihilation star recently made her directorial debut with A Tale Of Love And Darkness, an adaptation (in Hebrew!) of Amos Oz's memoir about growing up during the formation of Israel 70 years ago.

Related: Natalie Portman Says She Didn't Have Other Actress Friends Before the Time's Up Initiative