By Brittany Proctor
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
Natalie Portman, an actress and film producer, has recently been under criticism for her recent boycott on the Israeli Government. However, Portman turned down the opportunity to receive the Genesis Prize in Israel which was the right move.
Portman used her platform to make a statement regarding her values as an Israeli citizen and an American citizen. In addition, she was also supposed to receive $2 million that came along with the award. Some people in that position would accept the award even if it went against their values. This move speaks to Portman’s character and how passionate she is to express her opinion.
However, turning down a visit to Israel in protest is causing her to risk being stripped of her Israeli citizenship. Portman made this decision to boycott while feeling distressed over the recent events in Israel. On Instagram she posted: “Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation.” This statement made it clear that she has a right of being critical to the leadership, without wanting to boycott the entire nation.
She does mention that while she doesn’t agree with the Israeli government at this time, they were once seen as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. However, she concludes that this mistreatment and those people who are suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with her values.
This speaks to the divide between Jewish left-leaning celebrities and far-right celebrities. Being a celebrity allows the opportunity to platform views and values. This can be a good thing for the government or a bad thing. According to Data from the Pew Research Center, 49 percent of American Jews identify as liberal, while only eight percent of Israeli Jews say the same. In addition, 37 percent of Israeli Jews and 19 percent of American Jews describe themselves as conservative.
This all shows the power of voting and voices. The government has criticised Portman because she leans left and has influence over the rest of the country. Israeli Politicians have tried to marginalize her as anti-Semitic, which means other left-leaning celebrities may also be marginalized as anti-Semitic. In addition, it may cause celebrities to be stripped of their citizenship if they speak out. As long as Israel continues to lean to the right, more incidents like this will continue to happen.
Hopefully this incident allows people to have the courage to speak up when they see something that isn’t right. Citizens of a country can still critique it when an event or policy comes out that they don’t agree with. Portman, despite the backlash, has continued to stand up for the people who don’t have her power. She has used her platform in a way that speaks volumes to her character.
Brittany is a junior (undecided major, pursuing broadcast journalism). She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.