Natalie Portman Says Israel’s Nation-State Law Is ‘Racist’ And A ‘Mistake’

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Written by Ann Brown

Actress Natalie Portman recently released a new film, but the media focus wasn’t on her latest cinematic effort. Instead, it was on statements the Israeli-American actress has made about Israel.

In an interview with BBC’s Arabic language channel, Portman denounced Israel’s nation-state law as “racist” and a “mistake.”


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The interview was supposed to be about her new film, “Vox Lux,” but Portman spoke instead of how she hoped she could help improve Israel’s relationship with its neighbors, especially after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu passed the controversial nation-state law. The law states that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and Hebrew is the country’s sole official language.

Portman, who was born in Israel but moved to the U.S. when she was young, has spoken out against laws in Israel before. Earlier this year she announced “she would not come to Israel to accept the Genesis Prize (a $1 million award given annually to Jewish people who have attained recognition and excellence in their fields),” Haaretz reported.

“I am deeply touched and humbled by this honor,” Portman said in a statement in November, CNN reported “I am proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage; they are crucial parts of who I am. It is such a privilege to be counted among the outstanding laureates whom I admire so much.”

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Vox Lux” on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, at ArcLight Hollywood. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Here’s how Portman’s representative explained why Portman turned down the invitation: “Recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel.”

Because of her statements, some in the Jewish community have called Portman a “self-hating Jew,” but she has been firm in her stance. In 2009, she and other Hollywood celebrities protested a boycott of the Toronto International Film Festival because it hosted a Tel Aviv-themed event.

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Portman has also said that she does not support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. “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.” Portman said, adding that she cherishes “Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema and dance.”

Portman has always been critical of Netanyahu, telling The Hollywood Reporter in a 2015 interview, “I’m very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected.”


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.