Friday 25 May 2018

Portman refuses to pick up Israeli 'Nobel prize' over killing of protesters

Natalie Portman. Photo: PA
Natalie Portman. Photo: PA

Rozina Sabur

Natalie Portman has pulled out of the 'Jewish Nobel' prize ceremony in Israel because of her "extreme distress" over recent events in the country.

The American-Israeli actress said she did not feel comfortable attending public events in Israel after the state was criticised for firing on Palestinian protesters in the Gaza strip.

The Genesis Prize, dubbed the 'Jewish Nobel', recognises "outstanding achievement by individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields [who] embody the character of the Jewish people".

Previous recipients include former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Michael Douglas, violinist Itzhak Perlman and sculptor Anish Kapoor.

When Portman, who was born in Jerusalem and holds dual Israeli and US citizenship, was announced as the 2018 recipient late last year she said was "proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage".

However, the Genesis Foundation said it had cancelled its ceremony in June after the Oscar winner pulled out.

Portman has largely avoided discussing politics

The actress's representative said that "recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel".

The statement did not refer to specific events, but the recent military response to Palestinian demonstrations on the Gaza- Israel border has provoked international condemnation.

It comes as two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces yesterday as mass demonstrations along the Gaza Strip entered their fourth day.

Gaza's health ministry said 83 more were injured. Protesters also flew dozens of kites, in some cases carrying Molotov cocktails, in a new tactic that had led to at least a couple of small fires in Israeli territory this week.

Portman's decision provoked heavy criticism from Israel's governing Likud party, with one politician calling for her to be stripped of her citizenship.

Culture Minister Miri Regev, referring to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign claimed she had "fallen like ripe fruit into the hands of its supporters".

Israel has been criticised for its response to mass protests on the Gaza-Israel border, in which 36 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli fire since March 30.

Israel said that it is defending its border and accuses Gaza's rulers, the Islamic militant Hamas group, of trying to carry out attacks under the guise of protests.

Irish Independent

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