Natalie Portman Decides Against Israel Honor, Cancels Trip

The actress had been announced as an honoree by the Genesis Prize Foundation in November.

Natalie Portman has decided against receiving an honor in Israel and canceled her trip to accept the prize, according to the organization that had planned to salute the actress. 

The Genesis Prize, which honors notable individuals "who inspire others through their dedication to the Jewish community and Jewish values," has canceled its annual ceremony in Israel after Portman's decision to not take part in the June event. The actress had been announced as the honoree in November by the organization. 

“Ms. Portman is a highly accomplished actress, a committed social activist and a wonderful human being. The staff of the Foundation enjoyed getting to know her over the past six months, admires her humanity, and respects her right to publicly disagree with the policies of the government of Israel," read a statement from the Genesis Prize Foundation.

The foundation added: "However, we are very saddened that she has decided not to attend the Genesis Prize Ceremony in Jerusalem for political reasons. 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.”

Portman's rep declined to comment. 

In December, singer Lorde canceled a planned concert date in Israeli city Tel Aviv amid protests for artists to boycott performing in the country. Earlier in 2017, Radiohead similarly faced criticism ahead of its July 19 concert in the city. Frontman Thom Yorke addressed protesters in a Rolling Stone interview a month before the show, saying, "There's an awful lot of people who don't agree with the [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement, including us. I don't agree with the cultural ban at all."

Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, has openly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past, telling The Hollywood Reporter in a 2015 interview, "I'm very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected."

Increased pressure for visiting artists or prominent personalities planning to visit Israel has been applied by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions group, which protests the Jewish state over its treatment of of the Palestinians and the West Bank. After 26 Oscar nominees were given Israel tour packages as part of their 2017 Academy Awards swag bags, for instance, BDS issued a statement urging stars not to take the offer and none of the nominees used the offers to travel to Israel.

Previous Hollywood honorees of the Genesis Prize include actor Michael Douglas and musician Itzhak Perlman, who has performed scores for films including Schindler's List, Hero and Memoirs of a Geisha.

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