'It's Not BDS, It's Netanyahu': Portman Explains Why She Nixed Prize Ceremony in Israel

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This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Natalie Portman in a scene from "Annihilation."
This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Natalie Portman in a scene from "Annihilation."Credit: /AP

WASHINGTON - Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman said on Friday night that she does not support the Boycott, Divesment, and Sanctions movement, and that her decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony in Israel was in protest against the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was set to speak at the ceremony.

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In a statement published on her Instagram account, Portman explained that her decision not to appear at the ceremony "has been mischaracterized." She added that she 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." 

Portman clarified that she does not support the BDS movement or other boycotts against Israel. "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 of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation." Portman added that she treasures "Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema and dance."

She went on to say that 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." Portman asked her followers "not to take any words that do not come directly from me as my own."

She ended her message by stating that she will donate to Israeli charities that will be named in the future.

Earlier Friday, a spokesman for Portman announced she will not attending the ceremony in Jerusalem, despite the fact that she is the recipient of this year's award, because she finds recent events in Israel "distressing." In response, the ceremony has been cancelled, and Portman received harsh criticism from Israeli officials, who have accused her of supporting boycotts against the country. Two years ago, Portman directed and starred in a film shot in Israel with Israeli actors.

"A Tale of Love and Darkness" official trailer.

The film, "A Tale of Love and Darkness," was an adaptation of Amos Oz's 2002 eponymous memoir. 

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