April 24, 2018: Readers react to the Portman-Genesis affair

Our readers weigh in.

Actor Natalie Portman speaks onstage at the Women's March in Los Angeles on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California (photo credit: EMMA MCINTYRE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
Actor Natalie Portman speaks onstage at the Women's March in Los Angeles on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California
By rejecting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (“Natalie Portman: I’m not pro-BDS, I’m anti-Bibi,” April 22), the Hollywood actress has unintentionally sided with BDS. She has aided and abetted the enemies of Israel.
Ms. Portman could have declined the prize when it was offered. Instead, she waited – which got her into all this trouble.
It is for the people of Israel to decide who their prime minister is, not Ms. Portman or anyone else in Hollywood. She does not appreciate the dangers we face here in Israel, nor does she mention the outrageous remarks made by Arab MKs toward Israel.
Goodbye, Ms. Portman. You will not be missed.
Petah Tikva
While Natalie Portman is entitled to disagree with the policies of the duly elected government of Israel and its prime minister, as your editorial “Black swan” (April 22) points out, there is one part of the story that, I believe, has not been properly addressed in any of the published  articles since she had her spokeswoman announce that she would not attend the Genesis Prize ceremony.
Initially, all of the pundits attributed her refusal to attend the ceremony to the influence of the BDS movement. After that theory percolated for about a day, Ms. Portman issued a statement explaining that her refusal to attend the ceremony had nothing to do with BDS – she loves Israel (a questionable claim given her behavior) – but everything to do with her disagreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his policies.
In my opinion, Ms. Portman’s claim is disingenuous at best, and most probably patently false.
She accepted the Genesis Prize, known as the Israeli Nobel Prize, when Netanyahu was prime minister. Undoubtedly, she knew that he would be present at the awards ceremony. She thus falsely led the grantors of the prize to believe that she would attend. Only at the last minute did she withdraw, claiming her attendance would indicate support for the prime minister.
She certainly should be called to task for actively misleading the prize committee and accepting the prize under false pretenses.
The best way to register our objections to her immoral behavior is to refuse to attend future films in which she either appears or directs.
Natalie Portman’s decision not to accept the Genesis Prize was informed by her ignorance of the reality of Israel’s situation, but is a direct consequence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s malevolent refusal to enunciate a policy – any policy – for dealing with the Palestinian issue in order to ensure his own political survival. Ask any member of his governing coalition their preferred solution to the conflict – the response will be a deafening silence.
Thus, the Palestine narrative (two states, 1967 “borders,” capital in east Jerusalem) is lapped up by the world because there is no Israeli counter-narrative in the public domain. However unfairly, Israel will continue to be selectively boycotted and widely vilified.
I don’t quite understand why Natalie Portman and her opinion are so important and deserving of all this brouhaha.
I am not trying to denigrate the acting profession, but I don’t see her as an important person whose actions affect our country. Other than being born in Israel, what else has she done to show a strong commitment to this land?
Tel Aviv
Natalie Portman has stated that her decision to stay away from the Genesis Prize ceremony “has been mischaracterized by others.”
Question: Is Ms. Portman discomposed by those BDSers who now claim her as one of their own as much as she is by the supporters of Israel who question her loyalty to Israel and the Jewish people?
In the same public statement, Ms. Portman beseeched the world to “not take any words that do not come directly from me as my own.”
Her reversal of her prior decision to attend the ceremony was initially communicated via her representative (whom she presumably pays to interface with the public and who presumably communicated her initial acceptance). How much credence should the words of Ms. Portman’s own spokespeople now be given in any matter?
Petah Tikva
How puerile can Natalie Portman (and her apologist, Amy Spiro – “Why everyone is wrong about the Natalie Portman Genesis Prize scandal,” Comment, April 23) be?
If Portman wants to be an advocate of anarchy, fine, but everybody knows that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, like US President Donald Trump, is the legitimately elected leader. One may not like what he stands for, but that is entirely irrelevant. In this case, have the courage of your convictions and don’t accept the prize in the first place.
It is about time that the stars of the world realized that the public is not in the slightest interested in their views any more than it might be interested in mine.
With regard to the brouhaha raised by the refusal of Natalie Portman to sit on the same platform as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is a fundamental issue that has not been mentioned: In the military, one is required to salute an officer whether one likes or dislikes or even knows the officer. The salute recognizes and honors the rank, not the individual.
Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of the State of Israel, which came into existence after almost 2,000 years of an often difficult and painful exile, culminating in the Holocaust. The prime minister is the symbol of restored sovereignty. He is like the rank on the shoulders of an officer. Whether one agrees with his policies or not, to show him disrespect is an insult to the state and people he represents.
Further, and from an entirely different perspective, Jewish law, Halacha, mandates a blessing to be said when seeing a head of state, both Jewish and others: “Blessed art Thou who has given of His glory to humans.” This is indicative of the respect that must be shown to those who have risen to a position of national responsibility.
I have been following the explosion of opinions on the decision and remarks attributed to Natalie Portman in connection with the Genesis Prize scandal.
After some initial anger, it immediately reminded me that my late mother always instilled in us the importance of thinking before we speak because the spoken word can never be taken back. Even worse, in today’s world, the spoken or written word will, within no time at all, have been spread to thousands, nay hundreds of thousands, of people all around the world.
To be selected by the Genesis Prize Foundation, to come back to Israel to be the fifth laureate and to be handed the great gift of $2 million to be distributed specifically for advancing women’s rights is something one can only dream of. If, as Ms. Portman says, she always prides herself on being Jewish and Israeli, she should show us by getting on that plane and coming here and putting things right.
If not now, when? She should do it for her children and family.
We all make mistakes. We all regret at some time or another our decisions. Israel is a giant family and that’s what families do – forgive and forget.