Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: ‘Like All Boycotters of Israel, Natalie Portman Is a Hypocrite’

Natalie Portman arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Annihilation" at the Regency Village Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach joined SiriusXM hosts Alex Marlow and Frances Martel on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily to discuss Jerusalem-born actress Natalie Portman’s refusal to visit Israel to accept an award from the Genesis Foundation, a decision she belatedly framed as a rejection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his policies.

“She’s doing so, it appears, almost purely based on politics — the fact that being associated with Israel now is essentially being associated with President Trump,” Marlow said. “It is about political peer pressure, at least from my vantage point.”

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Boteach said that his World Values Network plans to run a full-page ad in the New York Times on Saturday to respond to Portman in the same manner as it publicly criticized pop singer Lorde for canceling a concert in Tel Aviv last June.

“Like all boycotters of Israel, Natalie Portman is a hypocrite,” Boteach said. “Because she’ll go the Shanghai film festival, which is officially sponsored by China’s state-run propaganda machine. She will endorse their state-run propaganda and censorship apparatus. But when it comes to democratic Israel — the only democracy in the Middle East, and a country fighting for its survival against genocidal enemies that are arrayed against it, Hezbollah to the north, Hamas to the west, Iran to the east — she’ll boycott the country.”

“For what?” he asked. “We don’t even really know. She said ‘recent events.’ It could be the clashes between Israel and Hamas on the Gaza border, which is probably happening today again because they do it every Friday.”

“I saw those protests myself. I was two hundred meters from them on the border, last Friday in Israel,” he recalled. “Hamas is a genocidal organization committed to the murder of every Jew on Earth in their charter, including Natalie Portman. They want to kill her too. What does she expect, that Israel is not going to defend its border and allow a genocidal terror group to enter into Israel and murder people?”

“What she did happened on Israel’s 70th birthday,” Boteach noted. “So here she is, Israeli-born, in Jerusalem. The IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, kept her alive against those same genocidal enemies when she was born, up until she was three years old and left the country. No one asked her to don the olive-green uniform and serve in the IDF, which is mandatory for all Israelis — but at the very least, no one asked you to trash the army, either.”

That army keeps that only democracy alive, and it stops a second Holocaust. It’s the height of ingratitude, it’s the height of hypocrisy. You’re running to China and smiling, and that’s not a democracy. You’re trashing Israel and you’re joining the Israel-haters. You’re giving comfort to Israel’s enemies. It’s very disturbing, and it’s utterly inappropriate,” he said.

“She really owes Israel an apology,” he declared.

Boteach marveled that so many “prominent American Jews” are “dumping on Israel.”

“What is this, some sort of club out in Hollywood where you sip champagne, no terrorists are trying to murder you, and then you don’t understand?” he said.

Boteach recalled the inspirational speech given by Mordechai Anielewicz, a revered hero of the Warsaw uprising, who told his fighters he could not offer them a choice between life and death, but they did have a choice between dying as helpless victims or dying in battle against their Nazi oppressors.

“Thank God the Jewish people today have a different choice,” he said. “We can choose life and death. What does Natalie want us to choose? Idleness, nothing, not to fight back against genocide? For God’s sake, it is so utterly immoral of her to condemn Israel for fighting back against committed terrorists who kidnap teenagers — this led to the 2014 Gaza war — you kidnap three teenagers, you murder them as soon as you abduct them. What does she want Israel to do, lay down its arms?”

“One of the other offensive things about it is, she gave a reason on Instagram that she wasn’t going to Israel because she didn’t want to endorse Benjamin Netanyahu and learned he was going to be at the ceremony where she was getting a prize,” Boteach added.

“The fact that a head of government is going to present of course doesn’t constitute an endorsement. She could have criticized Netanyahu — Israel is a democracy! — even at that same ceremony,” he noted.

“But look, love him or hate him, Netanyahu has been elected four times. He’s the only man in the Middle East to be elected. Again, for her to go to China where no one is elected, and we have someone who just basically declared himself to be President-for-Life, and to have no problem and smile broadly at the Shanghai film festival, but to condemn democratic Israel is the height of hypocrisy,” he said.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the author of over 30 books, most recently including The Israel Warrior: Fighting Back for the Jewish State from Campus to Street Corner and Lust for Love: Rekindling Intimacy and Passion in Your Relationship with Pamela Anderson.

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