So Natalie Portman is acting out? Let her

Definition of act out (intransitive verb)

to behave badly or in a socially unacceptable often self-defeating manner especially as a means of venting painful emotions (such as fear or frustration)

Catching us between Independence Day and preparations for the coming Shabbat/Friday Gaza riots, Natalie Portman’s announcement that she would not be coming to Israel to receive the Genesis Prize came as a bit of a surprise. What is the Genesis Prize?

I  know, through the media, who Natalie Portman is, but I really didn’t know much about the Genesis Prize. A little research brings up an informative write up by the New York Times about a fund set up by Russian Jewish billionaires, managed by the Jewish Agency and in cooperation with the Israeli government. The fund was set up to be apolitical and the previous recipients couldn’t be accused of being tilted towards Prime Minister Netanyahu. So what was Portman’s complaint?

I didn’t want to appear to endorse Netanyahu’ Portman stated.

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

This, to be expected, raised more than a few hackles of the Right and caused general satisfaction in the Left in Israel. The Likud Party was scathing in denouncing the “boycott”, with some going into the melodramatic. Cue Miri Regev and Oren Hazan.

Calling on Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to cancel Portman’s Israeli citizenship, Likud MK Oren Hazan labeled her “an Israeli Jewess who on the one hand makes cynical use of her origins in order to advance her career and who, on the other hand, prides herself on having avoided being drafted into the IDF.”

For my part, after the momentary confusion, and can only shrug off Portman’s protestations as the over-wrought performance of a prima donna attempting to steal some limelight by going off-script. She doesn’t like Netanyahu?  Join the club, but why hurt the people at the Genesis Prize? Why gift to the numerous haters of Israel another instance where, Natalie Portman, the famous Jewish-Israeli born actress, even rejects her country of birth?  While Portman, as an Israeli citizen, is in her perfect right to not to share the stage with Netanyahu or to agree with his policies, she cannot be given a free pass for being rude.

As for the Genesis Prize, and the selection committee headed by Natan Sharansky, a bit of advice. Almost everyone loves to be around celebrities. They create a buzz and give glamour to any event. Most of the past recipients of your honor were also famous and it is clear that by honoring the great you hope to attract some of the stardust to yourselves. No sweat. Go break a leg. Just remember that if life is a stage, sometimes you will be played.

About the Author
Shlomo Toren has been a resident of Israel since 1980, and a transportation planner for the last 25 years. He has done demand modeling for the Jerusalem Light Rail and Road 6. He is married to Neera and lives in Shiloh.
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