Published On: Thu, Dec 13th, 2018

Natalie Portman to Arab paper: Israel’s Nation-State Law is racist

The Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman told Palestinian-owned newspaper the law is 'a mistake' and that she does not agree with it

Natalie Portman on the set of Free Zone, 2005

In an interview to Al- Quds Al-Arabi, marking the release of her new film “Vox Lux,” Thursday, Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman again sparked a scandal, calling the controversial Nation-State Law “racist” and a “mistake.”

The 37-year-old Oscar-winning actress said: “I think we all as citizens have a responsibility to denounce injustice when we see it and I think it’s part of being a citizen, whether you’re an open person or a blind person.”

Israel’s controversial Nation-State Law, which was passed by the Knesset in July, defines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” which has the exclusive right to self-determination in the country. It also drops Arabic as an official language, designating it instead a “special status.” It also does not include a provision stating that all Israeli citizens are equal under the law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the law as the realization of the Zionist vision, but it has stoked anger among critics argue that it is racist. “It’s a mistake”, she said, “I only hope that we will really love our neighbors and work together.”

Portman, the daughter of Shelley and Avner Hershlag was born in Jerusalem under the name Neta-Lee. When she was three years old, the family moved to the United States.

The Holywood star studied psychology at Harvard University and was a co-author of two research papers that were published in scientific journals. At Harvard, Portman was Alan Dershowitz’s research assistant. She also graduates courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After returning to New York she worked as a lecturer on terrorism at Columbia University. Besides English and Hebrew, she speaks French, German, Japanese and Arabic.

Israel honors Natalie Portman with 2018 Genesis Prize Laureate

This is not the first time Portman lashed at Israeli policies. The actress refused to attend a ceremony in Jerusalem last April, to accept the Jewish Genesis Prize for her recognition and excellence in her field. The move came after Palestinians were killed in violent clashes with the IDF on the Gaza border.

“Recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel,” her representative said at the time.

Portman explained later that her refusal to accept the $1 million prize stemmed from not wanting to be seen as supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was scheduled to speak at the event.

Some ministers in Netanyahu’s right-wing government suggested Portman appeared to have been manipulated by the Palestinian-led international BDS campaign to boycott Israel.

Portman then wrote a statement on her Instagram account: “Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Portman added she did not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to isolate Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.

“Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust,” she stressed. “But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”

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