Published: 2018-04-20 12:03
Last Updated: 2018-04-20 14:05
The award ceremony for the Genesis Prize was canceled after the honoree, acclaimed actress Natalie Portman, announced that she will not be traveling to Jerusalem to accept the award.
The organizers were notified by Portman’s representative that the “Recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel.”
The sixth installment of the award was scheduled for June, 28, 2018, but had to be suspended as the actress couldn’t “in good conscience move forward with the ceremony,” the Genesis Prize quoted Portman.
The prize has been dubbed the “Jewish Nobel” and according to its website it aims “to celebrate Jewish achievement and contribution to humanity.” Since its inception, the foundation has awarded $1 million to each recipient to donate to causes they hold close to heart.
The Israeli-American Academy Award winner is known for a myriad of roles including Black Swan and her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy. In 2015 she also directed and starred in “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” a film based on Amos Oz’s book- a memoir set in the backdrop of the establishment of Israel.
Portman had been announced as the 2018 Laureate last November and at the time had promised to donate the $1 million prize money to women’s rights programs, in tune with the Me Too and Time's Up movements.
The organizers responded to her decline of the award by saying they “respect her right to publicly disagree with the policies of the government of Israel,” but expressed fear that her political motivations may cause the “philanthropic initiative to be politicized.”
The actress has been careful in the past so that her criticism of the Israeli government was not misused by “adversaries of Israel”, as in 2015 she expressed disappointment after Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected as Prime Minister in an interview with "The Hollywood Reporter".
The winner of the first ever Genesis Prize was announced by Prize Committee Chairman and Speaker of the Israeli Parliament, Yuli Edelstein. Michael Bloomberg, 10th richest man in the world, received the award in his 12th and final year as a Mayor of New York City in 2013.
This isn’t the first Israeli to voice concerns over the “recent events” in Gaza. The violent response to peaceful protests near the Gaza border fence has left more than 30 Palestinians dead, which was condemned by the international community and even left an Israeli Army Radio host feeling “ashamed to be Israeli”.