Born Neta-Lee Hershlag in Jerusalem, Natalie Portman has recently occupied a polarizing place in American Judaism. When she declined to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony (AKA the “Jewish Nobel”) in Israel after winning the award, there was both uproar and applause.

In a new profile in Vanity Fair, Natalie Portman is called a “Voice of Light.” The profile talks about her new movie, Vox Lux, but also addresses this controversy — and Natalie’s relationship to Israel.

Portman describes her relationship to her home country as “very complicated, like family — you love it more than anything else in the world and you also are more critical of it than anything else in the world.” She clarified she has no issue traveling to Israel (perhaps a dis at the BDS movement), but chose not to attend the Genesis Prize event because of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

This echoes her statement from earlier this year, when she wrote, “My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others. Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. By the same token, I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation.” She emphasized her love for “Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance” as well as her friends and family.

“Because I care about Israel,” Portman wrote, “I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”

Honestly, go Natalie! Stand up for what you believe in!

Emily Burack

Emily Burack is an editorial assistant at Alma.

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