April 20 (UPI) — Natalie Portman will no longer be traveling to Israel to accept the Genesis Prize, a prestigious award given to those dedicated to the Jewish community and Jewish values.
“Recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel,” a representative of Portman’s said in a statement. “She cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”
The actress was set to receive the Genesis Prize at a ceremony in Jerusalem on June 28. Portman was announced as the honoree in November. Previous Genesis Prize winners include actor Michael Douglas and musician Itzhak Perlman.
“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,” the Genesis Prize Foundation said.
“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,” they continued.
Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, criticized Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “I’m very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected,” she said.