Natalie Portman has just turned down an appearance at a prestigious Israeli awards ceremony due to her "distress" at the recent events related to the treatment of Palestinians. She had a representative share that she would be uncomfortable with traveling to Israel for now. Portman is an Oscar-winning actress and dual Israeli-American citizen who was born in Jerusalem. She was set to receive the Genesis Prize, an annual award offered to a Jewish person who had received international recognition for their career excellence in their field. Generally the prize money is set at about $1 million dollars, but Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn doubled the prize money this year. Previous winners have been personalities like actor Michael Douglas and violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Genesis Prize is canceling this year's ceremony since the news of Portman's cancellation. Organizers of the event said they had been informed by representatives of the actress that “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel.”
This announcement was also the day of the celebration of Israel's 70th year of statehood. Israeli culture minister Miri Regev tweeted that Portman had "fallen like ripe fruit into the hands" of anti-Israeli activists and even suggested her Israeli citizenship be revoked. Portman filmed her directorial debut in Hebrew and in Jerusalem but makes no secret of her disdain for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She took part in an online campaign against Bibi's re-election bid in 2015.
The Genesis Prize is a project of the Jewish Agency for Israel and was established by a group of wealthy Russian-Jewish businessmen. No word yet from the Genesis Prize Foundation as to whether Portman will still accept the prize money despite disavowing the ceremony.