Israeli officials have denounced actress Natalie Portman over her decision to not attend an awards ceremony in Israel over “recent events” in the country that she said were “distressing.”
Miri Regev, the Israeli minister of culture and sport, said that he was “saddened” by Portman’s decision, and connected the move to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
"I was saddened to hear that Natalie Portman has fallen as a ripe fruit in the hands of BDS supporters,” Regev said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Portman, who was born in Israel, made the decision not to attend the Genesis Prize awards ceremony just weeks after deadly clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters along the Israeli-Gaza border.
Israeli troops firing live ammunition and rubber bullets killed at least 17 Palestinians during the demonstrations.
Portman is this year’s recipient of the Genesis Prize, known as the “Jewish Nobel.” She pulled out of the June awards ceremony, saying through a rep that she “does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel” due to the “distressing” nature of recent events.
“She cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony,” her rep said Thursday. Supporters of the BDS movement have praised her decision.
The BDS movement works to boycott Israeli goods and services and works to have Israel withdraw from lands they claim belong to Palestine.
The Genesis Prize Foundation announced Friday that it would cancel the ceremony, saying in a statement that they were concerned Portman’s decision would “cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid,” according to Haaretz.