Natalie Portman Drops Out Of Awards Ceremony Over ‘Distressing’ Events In Israel

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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U.S. actress Natalie Portman has pulled out of a June awards ceremony in Israel because of concerns over “recent events” there, event organizers said Thursday.

Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, will not travel to Israel in June to receive the Genesis Prize, sometimes referred to as “The Jewish Nobel.”

“Recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her, and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel,” the Genesis Foundation, which sponsors the award, quoted a Portman representative as saying.

“She cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony,” the representative added, according to the Genesis Foundation.

The Genesis statement does not refer to any specific events that may have cause Portman to cancel her appearance.

Clashes have erupted in recent weeks between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters along the Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. Live fire from Israeli troops has killed dozens of Palestinians and wounded hundreds more, sparking international criticism of Israel’s response to the protests. Israel says it is defending its border and has accused the militant group Hamas, which loosely governs Gaza, of organizing the mass demonstrations as a cover for attacks.

Portman was announced as the winner of the 2018 Genesis Prize in November. She had committed to give the $1 million award to “philanthropic programs focused on advancing women’s equality in all aspects of human endeavor,” the Genesis Foundation said.

The Genesis Prize was created in 2013 to recognize Jewish contributions to humanity. Previous recipients include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Michael Douglas and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was selected in 2017 as the inaugural winner of the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Genesis Foundation is “very saddened” by Portman’s cancellation and worried about the political implications of the 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,” the foundation said.

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