Natalie Portman defends decision to boycott Genesis Prize ceremony protesting current Israeli leadership

"I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation"

Actor Natalie Portman has spoken out about her decision to boycott the awards ceremony for the Genesis Prize, which is referred to as the Jewish Nobel prize.

This decision has led to widespread criticism which calls to revoke her Israeli citizenship, reports Sky News.

Portman released statement clarifying her intentions: “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.”

Read more: Lorde cancels 2018 Israel concert following protests

“Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation. I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance.”

Quoted in the Israel National News, right-wing politician Oren Hazan said: “Sweetness can come from strength: I call on Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) to rescind Portman’s Israeli citizenship” and deemed Natalie Portman “unworthy of any honour in the State of Israel”.

It is unclear whether the actress will still receive $1 million that comes with the Genesis Prize.

The Genesis Prize ceremony aims to give credit to individuals “who inspire others through their dedication to the Jewish community and Jewish values”. The ceremony has now been cancelled.

Last year saw a collection of musicians join forced to campaign against Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ decision to play a show in Tel Aviv. Roger Waters joined the campaign alongside Thurston Moore to campaign against the show in Israel, urging Cave to cancel the show “while apartheid remains.”