The award, which honored Mirren for her “contributions to society and for the inspiration she brings to millions of people around the world,” was presented by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
The actress is a longtime friend of Israel and strong opponent of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement. “I believe in Israel and I will never participate in any boycott against Israel,” she said at the awards ceremony.
Showering praise on Israeli artists, she said she opposed efforts by pro-Palestinian groups to boycott them and the decisions by some famous musicians to shun traveling to Israel to perform. “I think that art is an incredibly important way of communication,” Mirren told a news conference. “The artists of the country are the people you need to communicate with and make a relationship with and learn from and build upon. So I absolutely don’t believe in the boycott, and here I am.”
Mirren first visited the country in 1967, at age 19, when she was traveling with her then Jewish boyfriend and fellow actor Bruce Myers. The couple volunteered at Kibbutz Haon on the Sea of Galilee and worked in the vineyards.