The Big Difference Between Natalie Portman and David Grossman

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 |  Tsvi Sadan

Israel’s 70th Independence Day was littered with left-wing nonsense. One example came from the daily Ha'aretz, which on this most auspicious of days chose to publish a list of its most hated songs, among them Israel's national anthem, "Hativkah," and Shuli Natan’s "Jerusalem of Gold."

Another was the "alternative" Memorial Day. As most Israelis were remembering the fallen soldiers and victims of terror, the left presented a joint ceremony of bereaved Israelis and a handful of Palestinians whose sons were killed while committing acts of terror against Israel. This perverted ritual, which draws moral equivalence between good and evil, is loathed by almost everybody here. But that didn't stop celebrated Israeli novelist David Grossman from accepting the “honor” of delivering the keynote at this event.

Grossman, who lost his own son in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, used this opportunity not to comfort, but rather to accuse Israel of implementing apartheid policies against the Palestinians and of killing “peaceful demonstrators” trying to breach the Gaza security fence.

Grossman’s participation in this vitriolic display, however, didn’t prevent him from accepting the Israel Prize the very next day. Many saw this as the height of hypocrisy. But, the Israel Prize is a national event, and Grossman didn’t reject the prize because he knows that to do so would mean boycotting Israel. And boycotting Israel means only one thing – denying its right to exist.

As much as Grossman doesn't like Prime Minister Netanyahu, and as much as he opposes the right-wing constituency, he is not willing to cut himself off from those with whom he vehemently disagrees. His public embracing of fellow Israel Prize winner Miriam Peretz, a right-wing educator, was the most vivid demonstration that Grossman still desires to be part of the people of Israel.

Israeli-born Hollywood superstar Natalie Portman was offered the Genesis Prize, often referred to as the "Israeli Nobel Prize," that honors individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community, and/or the State of Israel. Though not a national event per se, the participation of the prime minister in this event means that Israel is fully behind this award. Refusing this prize, therefore, is like refusing a Nobel Prize over disagreements with the policies of current Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.

But that's exactly what Natalie Portman did. She refused to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony because she doesn’t like the present Israeli prime minister. The website of the Genesis Prize put Portman's decision in proper context: “Recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel … she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”  

“Recent events” must mean Israel’s resolution not to allow anyone to breach the fence from Gaza to Israel. The fact that the 35 Gazans killed thus far in these riots were attempting to “return” to pre-Israel "Palestine" didn’t bother Portman’s conscience. She wasn’t concerned by the expressed intent to put an end to Israel. Her heart went after her dead enemies, just as Grossman lamented the deaths of his enemies.

But Natalie, whose conscience didn’t prevent her from headlining the 2016 Beijing International Film Festival, chose to boycott Israel. By so doing she chose to cut herself off from the whole, something even Grossman refrained from doing. One can say in her defense that Portman has on many occasions stood by Israel. And that's true. However, by refusing the Genesis Prize on moral grounds, she has stated that Israel in its present state has no right to exist.

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