After Winning Genesis Award, Natalie Portman Refuses It in Light of Gaza Massacre
The Russian-Jewish oligarchs who founded the Genesis Prize with their plundered wealth, scored an own goal this week. The 2018 recipient of the award, film actress Natalie Portman, essentially turned it down by announcing that she would not travel to Israel at this time due to her “distress” at the IDF murders along the Gaza “border.” In the latest developments there, IDF snipers murdered another four Palestinians protesting at the border fence for the Right to Return. That brings the total number of dead to 32 with several thousand wounded, many seriously.
After media controversy reached a fever pitch, Portman herself released this statement:
“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,” she wrote.
Though the slight tinge of scandal has drawn the interest of the international media, they are missing considerable important elements of it.
The Genesis PR apparatus released this quite disingenuous statement in reply:
…Its organizers “fear that Ms. Portman’s decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid.”
The notion that such a Prize, whose clear mission is to promote Brand Israel, would not be a political statement is ludicrous. Perhaps what they meant to say is that they hoped their laureates would be above the taint of political partisanship: that too is also ludicrous. Today, the very notion of Israel and everything associated with it is political. It has been made so by Israel itself.
Note too, that the Prize itself is jointly sponsored by the prime minister’s office and the Jewish Agency. In other words, two institutions responsible for polishing the tarnished reputation of Israel throughout the world.
Israeli firebrand and minister, Miri Regev, always good for a colorful quote, accused Portman of falling into the hands of Israel haters:
“I was sad to hear that Portman fell like a ripe fruit into the hands of BDS supporters,” she said. “A Jewish actress, who was born in Israel, is joining those who see the story of the success and magic of the establishment of Israel as ‘a tale of darkness and darkness,” Regev added, referencing the 2015 film A Tale of Love and Darkness, starring Portman and based on a book by Amos Oz.
In fact, Portman opposes BDS; or so she implied when she signed a letter protesting a cultural boycott of an Israel film festival in Toronto several years ago. Born in Israel, the actress seems a classic liberal Zionist. In other words, she has a conscience. But that only goes so far. If one were cynical and less appreciative of the gesture she’s made in this case, one might accuse of her of being a “shooting and crying” liberal, who bemoans the fact that Israel’s enemies “force” it to kill them in self-defense.
That’s probably an overly cynical response in this case. Portman has made a brave gesture knowing that refusing to accept the award in Israel would generate huge waves of anger from the Israel Lobby and its disciples. One can see from both the ire of the Lobby and the example of women who came forward as part of the #MeToo movement, that speaking out has its price. Some have lost their careers. Some have left the profession in disgust. MK Oren Hazan (who himself formerly ran a Bulgarian casino which provided prostitutes to its high rollers) demanded that Israel deny her Israeli citizenship (she is a dual citizen). So one hopes that she continues to pursue these issues and that her gesture of protest isn’t a one-off phenomenon.
The Genesis Prize is the brainchild of three Russian oligarchs, Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr (Peter) Aven and Stan Polovets. Fridman is closely associated with another ruthless oligarch, German Khan. They both sued Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS because they are mentioned in the Steele dossier as close interlocutors for the Kremlin in dealings with Trump’s various Russia point men.
Khan and Fridman operate their shady financial dealings through a holding company called the Alfa Group. Here’s some of the evidence filed against them in a defamation lawsuit they filed against a media outlet:
…The Alfa Group allegedly has a dark side, some of which emerged here in the United States during a civil suit filed by Fridman, Aven, and Alfa Bank in 2000 against the Center for Public Integrity, which had published a piece about the Alfa Group that they claimed was defamatory. The piece in question discussed allegations of organized crime and drug activities involving the group that had been made public in Russia. In a September 2005 opinion in favor of the defendants, Judge John Bates, citing reams of media articles about Alfa, as well as a Russian state security (FSB) report on the group, observed: “Aven and Fridman have been dogged by allegations of corruption and illegal conduct. Russian newspapers have published repeated claims that Aven and Fridman have rigged the auction of state assets through government connections, threatened the lives of government officials, ordered the assassination of a mobster and engaged in narcotics trafficking and money laundering.”
The Prize is awarded yearly to a Jew (so far the only winners have been Diaspora Jews) who advances the strength and unity of the Jewish people:
The Genesis Prize honors individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their dedication to the Jewish community and Jewish values…The Genesis Prize inspires unity throughout the global Jewish community and the State of Israel by recognizing the many faces and forms of Jewish nationhood in the modern world.
Though it’s been branded by its funders “the Jewish Nobel,” it is little more than a self-congratulatory vehicle for those bankrolling it. It’s a form of philanthropic money-laundering by which they take dirty money and cleanse it through so-called good works.
There is no real rhyme or reason for being named as a laureate. Unlike the various Nobel awards, there is no expert committee judging the various achievements of nominees. Members of the awards committee are Israel Lobby hacks like Jack Rosen, settler and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and Fridman’s “colleague,” Pyotr Aven. Essentially, you get the award if you’re a celebrity in your field. Recipients so far were Michael Bloomberg, Michael Douglas, Itzhak Perlman and Anish Kapoor.
23 thoughts on “After Winning Genesis Award, Natalie Portman Refuses It in Light of Gaza Massacre – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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suggestion to the genesis prize, DIVIDE IT BY THE NUMBER OF NON ORTHODOX , NON IDF AND ABOVE MINIMUM WAGE EARNERS RELATED ISRAEL CITIZENS . (INCLUDE DISABLED (NON IDF))
THESE ARE THE TRUE HONOREES THAT SHOULDER THOSE NOT INCLUDED. THESE ARE THE PAIN BEARERS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL, AND WITHOUT A SURPRISE THAT TOTAL WILL BE IN THE MILLIONS.
further everything in israel is made under the ALL IS POLITICS flag not a thing is made or appartitioned in the whole government apparatus is not above politics .
so hey you russian billionaires NOT IN PUTIN CIRCLE (WINK WINK) HOW ABOUT GIVING A FEW SHEKELS TO THOSE WHO SHOULDER YOUR STRIPPING OF ISRAEL’S WEALTH
PS none of the excluded above pay any ACTUAL taxes or does not belong to the upper 5%
“The Prize is awarded yearly to a Jew …”
So why was it awarded to Michael Douglas? His father, Kirk, is Jewish, but his mother, Diana Dill, is NOT, which means Michael is NOT Jewish.
He was awarded the $1 million prize in 2015. From Wikipedia: Douglas plans to donate the prize money to activities designed to raise awareness about inclusion and diversity in Jewish life, and to finding innovative solutions to pressing global and community problems.
So, basically Douglas is s Judeofile goy with Zionist tendencies, not interested (or so it seems) to donate any of that prize to the pressing Palestinian problem.
@ Paranam Kid: We don’t let Orthodox rabbis or settlers determine who is a good Jew. If Michael Douglas considers himself a Jew, he is. Please don’t use the term “goy” here. Especially not in a negative context.
Thanks for the background on this prize ( which one does not get in The Forward) which does not seem to distinguish for achievement so much as being Jewish and famous (?). Natalie Portman looks all the more beautiful to me now by refusing this award signifying what?. She proves that she is the wrong person to have been chosen as well because the Jewish people are far from unified.
You quote Portaman asking “Let me speak for myself” but then you don’t let her. She does not mention Gaza, so why would you?
‘You quote Portaman asking “Let me speak for myself” but then you don’t let her. She does not mention Gaza, so why would you?’
Indeed. What possible connection could there be between Israel’s introduction of murderin’ fridays and Natalie Portman’s sudden refusal to do anything that might be seen as endorsing that state?
Maybe she’s upset at the service on Jerusalem’s Light Rail. The proposed location for America’s new embassy? It could be anything, really.
More seriously, I’d guess Natalie’s an erstwhile Israel supporter who’s starting to find the meal a little too rich and filling. This is a definite band on the spectrum. Portman just hasn’t reached the point where she’s prepared to explicitly criticize Israel.
Oops!… I Did It Again
Song by Britney Spears
Maybe because of the following sentence from her statement?
“Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values.
It is the policy towards refugees from Africa, not the Gaza border, which she is protesting.
‘…It is the policy towards refugees from Africa, not the Gaza border, which she is protesting.’
Infiltrators, DH, inflitrators. Certainly not ‘refugees.’
@ DH: Use of the term “atrocity” indicates she wasn’t speaking of African refugees. While they are certainly mistreated. But an atrocity indicates violence and murder. Only the Gaza massacre fits that definition. Nice try, but another hasbara fail.
“I was sad to hear that Portman fell like a ripe fruit into the hands of BDS supporters,”
Fell ‘like a ripe fruit,’ did she? There’s a certain interesting reference there to fears of miscegenation. Jewish maidenhood has been led astray — shades of the hysteria about Arab men getting at nice Jewish girls.
Well, maybe nothing to it. In any case, Natalie Portman started out as a ‘research assistant’ to Alan Dershowitz. Of course, my first impression of Israel was based on Leon Uris’ Exodus — and here I am.
Anyone of good will and intelligence follows the same evolution. It’s just a matter of where we started and where we are at the moment.
Ms Portman is a highly principled person, who loves Israel, but I believe her decision to refuse the award was the wrong one.
Accepting the award would have granted her the rare opportunity of meeting a sitting Prime Minister face to face, and ‘talking Truth to Power’. She could have told the Prime Minister directly how his policies are hurting Israelis and hurting Israel’s chances of making peace with the Arabs. Now, that opportunity is lost, and she is being ‘used’ by the Israeli Right and by BDS.
What a shame.
‘Accepting the award would have granted her the rare opportunity of meeting a sitting Prime Minister face to face, and ‘talking Truth to Power’. She could have told the Prime Minister directly how his policies are hurting Israelis and hurting Israel’s chances of making peace with the Arabs. Now, that opportunity is lost, and she is being ‘used’ by the Israeli Right and by BDS.’
Let me guess. Portman would express her dissent to Netanyahu privately, and avoid any explicit, public attacks on Israel at the awards ceremony.
Actually, I think that’s just the choice she wanted to avoid: she didn’t want to have to choose between tacitly endorsing Israel and publically attacking it. As far as she can, she’s just falling silent — or trying to. ‘Ohne mich’ is a useful German expression for this. She’s getting off the bus, so to speak.
@ Elena: The very notion that Natalie Portman could persuade Bibi of anything, especially once he found out she was a bleeding heart Hollywood liberal, is ludicrous. And you presenting this delusional scenario as if it could ever happen is just plain, well I already said it, delusional.
Bibi is not open to persuasion from the likes of her. She would never even get in the front door once he found out how “distressed” she was. He’d much rather kick back in his Caesarea villa with one of Arnon’s Cohibas and a glass of pink Champagne than listen to such “drivel.”
You both need to read a little more carefully.
I never used the words ‘persuade ‘ or ‘convince’. I used the words, ‘talking Truth to Power’.
I’m a big girl, and I don’t need either of you ‘mansplaining’ what I’ve said.
‘…I’m a big girl, and I don’t need either of you ‘mansplaining’ what I’ve said.’
You’re a piece of work. We’re getting the whole damned orchestra.
@ elena: First, it’s laughable that Natalie Portman would be considered a bearer of “truth.” As a liberal Zionist she is guilty of the same delusional wishful thinking of all of the breed. But even if she got to talk to Bibi, he would never listen to her. So she wouldn’t “talk” anything to him, let alone truth.
Don’t you dare introduce the red herring of misogyny here. My objections to you have nothing to do with your gender and everything to do with their substance (or lack thereof), Go down that road again and you’ll be on exceedingly thin ice.
‘@ Elena: The very notion that Natalie Portman could persuade Bibi of anything, especially once he found out she was a bleeding heart Hollywood liberal, is ludicrous. And you presenting this delusional scenario as if it could ever happen is just plain, well I already said it, delusional.’
It’s not delusional at all. The idea is to, without explicitly denying Portman’s right to refuse to sanction Israeli policy, to channel it in some direction where it can have no effect.
She can ‘talk truth to power.’ She can go right ahead. No harm done.
covince bibi HARHAR BEST JOKE OF THE MILLENIA
even queen sara does not convince him she just bosses him around and THATS what goes in israel as convincing bibi
‘There is no real rhyme or reason for being named as a laureate.’
Richard: I know what you mean, but the purpose of the prize really is right there in front of your face.
‘…The Genesis Prize inspires unity throughout the global Jewish community and the State of Israel by recognizing the many faces and forms of Jewish nationhood in the modern world…’
The prize exists to link Jewish identity and Israel in the minds of the Jewish community and to promote a sense of ethnic uniqueness and achievement in the Jewish community — and to firmly attach that to the state of Israel. The cynical might even say it serves to hijack the achievements of Jews wherever they may be and put them to good use. Hand out a Genesis Prize for it, and Hank Greenberg hits his home runs for Israel instead of for the Tigers. Jewish achievement ceases to merge the community with the gentiles around them, but on the contrary, serves to separate them and bind them to Israel.
@Richard: sorry for the term goy, and I did not even know there is also a positive connotation.
I believe yu are amiss when you say Douglas can consider himself a Jew therefore he is a Jew.
Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism follow the Halakha, deeming a person to be Jewish if their mother is Jewish, or they underwent a proper conversion.
Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism accept both matrilineal and patrilineal descent.
According to the simplest definition used by most Jews for self-identification, a person is a Jew by birth, or becomes one through religious conversion.
If I am not mistaken in Israel only the 1st category is accepted. To quote you: “this Prize, whose clear mission is to promote Brand Israel, would not be a political statement is ludicrous …”
Since politics and religion are intimately intertwined in Israel, and this prize is to promote Brand Israel, I fail to see the justification for awarding Douglas the prize in 2015, unless the real reason is something else, such as using anyone famous with the vaguest connection to Judaism to “talk up” the prize.
I know Michael Douglas is not the subject, but the fact that he got the award, as mentioned in your article, struck me as odd, to say the least.
@ Paranam Kid: Orthodox and Conservative Judaism are not the sole arbiters on the issue of who is a Jew. In fact, and unlike many religions, Judaism is a highly decentralized religion. The vast majority of Jews in the world don’t care what any of the denominations say on any particular subject, because they are unaffiliated.
Yes, there is halacha, which all the denominations interpret, many in totally contradictory ways. But since most Jews don’t live by halacha, reading someone out of the Jewish people solely based on halachic considerations (especially if the person doesn’t recognize such considerations) is problematic.
As for Douglas, he was given the Award because he’s a Hollywood celebrity (albeit a washed-up one) and rich. He may even be a business partner of one of the oligarchs. Who knows.
Actually, what’s more important than whatever Natalie Portman actually meant or actually did is how it’s being taken.
And at least according to Haaretz, it’s being taken just about perfectly, thank you.
‘Young Jewish Resistance in America Hails Portman’s Stance as Turning Point on Israel
College students and activists tell Haaretz the American-Israeli actor has emboldened them to speak out, after she opted not to attend an awards ceremony in her honor due to Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies
Dina Kraft Apr 23, 2018 9:04 PM
For Andrew Goldblatt, a junior at Tufts University, Natalie Portman’s decision not to attend an awards ceremony to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies signals a potential turning point in the…’
I’ll see your Scarlett Johannson and raise you a Princess Amadala.