‘Racist’ & ‘mistake’: Jerusalem-born Natalie Portman slams Israel’s nation-state law
Hollywood star Natalie Portman has dubbed Israel’s contentious ‘nation-state’ law that prioritizes Jewish values racist in an interview to an Arabic newspaper. It’s not the first time she has criticized her country of birth.
The bill introduced this July has been slammed as discriminatory, and has sparked local and international condemnation.
“This is a mistake and I do not agree with it,” the Oscar-winning actress told London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds. Denouncing the legislation as “racist,” Jerusalem-born Portman called it a political decision that has an impact on many people’s lives.
In an interview marking the release of her new film ‘Vox Lux’, she also said she hopes “that we will really love our neighbors and work together.”
This is not the first time the Hollywood diva has expressed anger over the controversial legislation. Earlier this month, she told BBC Arabic that the law is “wrong” and she disagrees with it. “It’s racist and there’s nothing else to say about that.”
In July, the Israeli Parliament approved the ‘nation-state bill’, which enshrines Israel as the Jewish homeland, downgrades the status of Arabic, and limits the right to self-determination to Jews.
The legislation has sparked waves of protests, which spilled over the Israeli border and angered some in the Jewish diaspora across the globe. Critics argue that the bill’s content makes Israeli Arabs second-class citizens.
The stand-off between Portman, who was born in Israel but moved to the US at the age of three, and the Israeli government started making headlines before the bill was adopted. In April, the actress refused to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony, often called the ‘Jewish Nobel’, which is given annually to Jewish people who have gained recognition in their fields.
Portman said she “does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel” because of the “extremely distressing” recent events and added that she “cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.” The ‘Great March of Return’ marches which started this spring at the Gaza border saw many Palestinians killed and injured.
She was accused of supporting the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, but claimed she was only against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies.
Israeli MP Oren Hazan said that “from the outset, the idea of granting the Genesis Prize to Natalie Portman was complete craziness,” because she “on the one hand cynically uses her birthplace to advance her career and on the other is proud of the fact that she managed to avoid enlisting in the IDF. She’s an actress, but she is unworthy of any honor in the State of Israel.”
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