Natalie Portman: Israel’s nation-state law is ‘racist, it is a mistake, I don’t agree with it’

Film Premiere of Vox Lux

Natalie Portman is a citizen of Israel and America. She was born in Israel, and she was raised in America, and she currently lives in LA (having left Paris when her husband left his Opera De Paris job). Over the years, Natalie gets questions about Israel, Israeli politicians and Israeli policies. I actually think Natalie does a decent job balancing out her views – she’s criticized Israel before, she’s criticized Benjamin Netanyahu before, but I’ve never felt like she’s just mouthing off for the sake of it. She’s judicious in how she criticizes her other home country. And this is one of those moments – earlier this year, the Knesset passed a nation-state law which basically only confers citizenship on Jewish, Hebrew-speaking Israelis and not any of the 1.8 million Arab Israelis currently living in Israel. Natalie has some thoughts:

Natalie Portman is speaking out about Israel’s controversial nation-state law, which was passed earlier this year to widespread criticism from within Israel and overseas. Speaking to the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, as translated by both Al Jazeera and Haaretz, the Oscar-winner described the law as “racist.”

“It is a mistake and I don’t agree with it … [people’s] lives are [being] affected on a personal level by decisions made by politicians,” she added. “I only hope that we will be able to truly love our neighbours and that we can work together.”

Portman’s comments come less than a year after the Israeli-born actress sparked global headlines by pulling out of a prize ceremony in Tel Aviv, just weeks after Israeli troops had shot and killed a number of Palestinians protestors at the Gaza border (the casualty figures would rise to more than a hundred over the month that followed).

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

The nation-state law has been called “apartheid” by many human rights groups and watchdog groups, so it’s not like Natalie is the only one standing up to say this. It’s just unusual because she’s in the unusual position of being a famous dual citizen. In the past, when she’s made mild criticism of Israel or Israeli politicians before, I got the sense that her remarks were not well-received in Israel. I don’t know how these comments are being received, but my guess is that Netanyahu doesn’t give a sh-t. As long as he stays cozied up to the worst of the American right-wing, there’s not much anyone can do to him.

Film Premiere of Vox Lux

Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

46 Responses to “Natalie Portman: Israel’s nation-state law is ‘racist, it is a mistake, I don’t agree with it’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Lilly (with the double-L) says:

    Good for her and thank you, Natalie. They won’t like it and will probably find ugly ways to be dismissive of her speaking out. But, I hope some hear the “truly love our neighbors” part of her message.

    • otaku fairy says:

      It’s brave of her to criticize this. Nothing she said comes across as anti-Semitic, the apartheid comparison seems pretty accurate.

      • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

        Yes it is brave and accurate. It’s easy to be quiet and I sincerely appreciate her.

  2. Meowuirose says:

    We live in a geopolitical environment where any criticism of Israel is called antisemitism. What they are doing to the ppl of Palatine is absolutely human rights violations. This really goes back to when Israel was created after WWII. How could they not have know this would happen? Imo, the Jewish ppl should absolutely have their own homeland but idk that a blatant land grab was the way to go about it because here we are now.
    I dont pretend to be the most informed on this issue but I do try to keep up with it.

    • Steff says:

      When she decided not to accept the Genisis award in Israel the right wing media in Israel labeled her as antisemetic. Too bad the media doesn’t care about full statements nowadays.

      Also, I wanted to say this when the Jessica Simpson thing came up, I hate hate HATE when celebs use social media to stir up unwarranted drama. I’m side eyeing Jessica Simpson for putting up a click baity instagram post while not understanding Natalie didn’t shame her with her comments about her posing in a bikini while still a virgin. Someone’s PR agent needs to brief them before they do impulsive things on social media.

      • Louise says:

        I disagree with you here. Natalie did shame her. Natalie’s comment was out of line. She had no right discussing Jessica in the way she did.

      • Steff says:

        My God, actually read it.

      • Mia4s says:

        I agree with you @Steff. I completely got was Natalie was saying. And the fact that Jessica didn’t get what she was saying is very telling. Oh but the media and PR does love articles with the word “shaming” in them. If only they could have worked in the word “hater” we would have been all set. 🙄

      • Steff says:

        Read it in context, she said she felt confused seeing that cover as a teenager where it showed a hyper sexual image with something promoting her virginity in text. It was a criticism of media sexualizing virgins. Maybe we can travel back in time to 99 and tell off 18 year old Natalie for thinking such things.

      • otaku fairy says:

        I don’t think Natalie was intentionally shaming Jessica, but I see how it definitely could have been read as saying that if a girl shows that much skin and talks about being a virgin, she’s obviously a lying hypocrite. “Bad Role Model!” Plus I’m sure others online used that to slut-shame and come up with gross misogynistic conspiracy theories about Jessica and some others in the entertainment industry too. So I’m not surprised that it bothered her at the time. Her instagram response made some good points. People interpreting skin shown with consent or with sexual history is a problem people have when it comes to young girls and women.

      • Xo says:

        @Louise. Her delivery wasn’t tactful, but, in criticizing the narrative around Jessica’s IMAGE, Natalie made a larger, apt point about the industry.

    • chinoiserie says:

      People criticize Israel all the time. I don’t recall any positive news being reported about the country or its politics. And often people do hide behind Israel criticism while making comments against completely unrelated Jews so it’s not like antisemitism isn’t happening.

      • homeforholidays says:

        I agree with Meowuirose. And you guys over in the US are up for a big constitutional law challenge with those weird “no BDS” state laws popping up all over the country (see the speech therapist in Texas case) and legal experts (including those from the ACLU) are saying these “no BDS” law will be easily defeated (1st amendment). I think you’re also trying to pass the same law at the federal level. The Israeli lobby is very, very strong in the US, namely US politics, and that is in no way an antisemitic comment. Also being critical of some of the stances of hardline Zionism is not being antisemitic.

  3. Desolee says:

    Does he have to be cozied up to right wing Americans? I always thought it was more a strategic interest, Im really skeptical of the people who think it’s all about a Jewish American conspiracy including Jewish people working in hollywood. I feel that no matter the American govt is democratic or republican they will keep ties with Israel for its strategic location, (which honestly I don’t totally understand the way it works with the army) that’s it. It’s not about being cozy or any big conspiracy. Obama was not as friendly but I don’t feel he changed much and before Obama with bush people were already talking a lot about why we donate money or weapons to Israel. And yeah that sounds exactly like apartheid. China India, and S.A are other countries that do horrible things to Muslims and the US is not really trying to stop them either 🙁

    • Whitecat says:

      The funny thing is – Netanyahu and his right wing government has caused the deepest crisis between Americans Jews and Israel that has not been seen in decades. Most American jews tend to vote democrat and Netanyahu has basically alienated them in many ways (through more religious laws in Israel, spying and barring entry to jewish Americans who criticie the state of Israrl, and now the nation state bill). That’s why he needs to cosy up to Trump and his nutters.

    • BorderMollie says:

      Israel/Palestine is indeed in a very strategic location, and it’s useful for the US to have a client state armed to the teeth there for its own regional economic interests. It’s devastating for the local populations, regardless of ethnic background, none of whom get the chance to live in a normal country.

    • homeforholidays says:

      Yep, so strategic re ME and Russia. That’s why you guys give $10 million in military aid to Israel EACH DAY.

      • Desolee says:

        Why do they do it in your opinion? What does the US get from that? They must get something it’s not just coziness. Maybe it’s a grandfathered thing that doesn’t make sense anymore but the US is scared to stop becuase what if something bad happens ?

  4. Desolee says:

    I always thought Natalie was pro Israel becuase of the movie she made about it (I didn’t watch the movie now I’m curious.)

    • SK says:

      I don’t understand what this means? She’s Israeli. She’s proud of being Israeli. Is that what you mean by pro-Israel? You can love your country and absolutely hate its policies or specific policies and actions. I think we’ve all been in that situation.

    • homeforholidays says:

      She love Israeli culture but I think as she gets older, she’s increasingly questioning the politics and Zionism, which, to note, being a zionist is completely different from being Jewish.

  5. Sandy says:

    I only came here to say that she is getting even more good looking the older she gets. 😍

  6. SK says:

    Israel has a large voting bloc of super conservative voters. These religious nutters are exempt from working and from serving in the armed forces and pretty much do nothing but breed. They are pushing government agendas towards a religious agenda: they do not believe that the messiah can come until they expel all the non-Jews from Israel (or something along those lines). Unfortunately, the exacerbated division of the wall and resulting lack of meaningful connections, understanding and relationships between the two sides coupled with long-term propaganda has pushed a lot of others into a more hardline approach as well. Nevertheless, many, many Israelis hate these kinds of policies and are very vocal about it. I’ve met Israelis who absolutely believe in a two-state solution and even that Israel should compensate Palestine for decades (although they don’t think a two-state solution would be easily worked out). Good on Natalie for criticising this repulsive law.

    • Desolee says:

      Very interesting information !

    • Bettyrose says:

      Do nothing but breed…more conservative (military exempt) voters. Way back in the 90s, I dressed myself in modest clothing and met with some women in mea shearim (I had passable Hebrew back then but most also spoke English). It was shocking seeing these giant families squeezed into tiny apartments while the fathers were off endlessly studying torah. Like, the world is full of economic refugees trying to escape the living conditions this community actively chose for themselves. And most of those kids are now right wing voters who’ve had a dozen more kids themselves.

      • SK says:

        Yup! These are the people populating the hideous Settlements too. They are religious zealots and extremists and that is never a good thing. There is a big push in Israel to make them go out and get jobs and serve in the armed forces. I hope it works! Most Israelis I know view them with utter disdain.

      • lanne says:

        I did the same thing! I was there in the summer of 1997, staying with a Palestinian-American family for a week in Ramallah, then going to visit friends in Mea Shearim (a black family whose daughters had married Israeli Haredim). They are religious zealots and extremists–even had Yigal Amir (assassin of Prime Minister Rabin) read their marriage contract from his jail cell. I remember thinking as an American, the murder of Rabin really was the beginning of the end of the peace process. What I don’t understand is how blind Israel is being to demographics. There are many more kids being born to Palestinians to Israelis, and soon there will be no choice but SA level apartheid if they don’t find a way to coexist and live in peace. Short of cutting Israel out of Asia Minor and pasting it onto the US east coast, Israel must find a way to live in its own neighborhood.

    • Kitten says:

      This is all fascinating information. Thank you for sharing. I can see that I have a lot of Googling to do 😉

  7. Whitecat says:

    I think any sane Israeli would think the same thing as natalie Portman. The problem is many of the left leaning Israelis have left abroad, and have completely checked out of politics. These comments are not well received in Israel, but then again she’s not the only Israeli who has been smeared and attacked by the government and right wing people. Netanyahu isn’t even the worst of the right wing politicians – afterall, a month ago he agreed to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and he was crucified by his own government.

    I hope Natalie Portman keeps speaking up and others like her, god only knows we need good people to speak up rather than completely disengage.

    I always liked Natalie despite the fact she was surpervised by Alan Dershowitz in Harvard, I think she’s a lot more aware than people give her credit.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Isn’t Dershowitz a law professor? Why would he have been her advisor or whatever as an undergrad?

      • Whitecat says:

        Not sure but she was his research assistant. You can find the info on Harvard’s crimson actually!

      • Bettyrose says:

        I guess it makes sense she’d have a celebrity boss/mentor, but she was famous before Harvard so Dershowitz probably didn’t influence her personality much (can’t imagine she started defending douche bag and murderous husbands in her free time).

    • Vv says:

      It’s not true that most left leaning Israelis have left. There’s actually a very big push, especially with elections coming up, to try and push out Netanyahu so that’s not fair to say.
      The problem is that Netanyahu’S voters are 200% dedicated to him, he’s basically an idol, so he knows that he can win with their unwavering votes, while in the middle/left side of the map there is so much bickering and attempts to be PM that the votes are always divided enough to not have a clear leader. If politicians were really thinking of doing the best FOR THE PEOPLE the middle/left parties would come together and decide on 1 person they can all get behind, even at the expense of their party losing a few seats in the Knesset (which could also be solved with various agreements between parties).

      • Kitten says:

        “The problem is that Netanyahu’S voters are 200% dedicated to him, he’s basically an idol, so he knows that he can win with their unwavering votes.”

        Sounds familiar…

      • Vv says:

        Netanyahu was there before Trump and he can still teach him a few things, he is absolutely devious and the fact that both him and his wife are under investigation in more than 1 case of fraud and misuse of power and bribery (his wife also lost one of her cases btw) but still his supporters continue insisting everything is a lie made up by police is absolutely maddening and just unbelievable. and I’m saying this as someone with a family member who I love dearly but speaking to her about this is like talking to someone completely brainwashed.

      • Kittem says:

        I can only imagine. Thanks so much to all the commenters on this thread…learning so much from you guys.

    • SK says:

      Ummmm… that’s not true. I was there a fair bit in 2016-2017 (I was living in Jordan at the time) and I went back this year. There are many, many liberal, left-leaning Israelis. Indeed, some of the harshest criticism of Israeli policy comes from inside of Israel. Despite all of this, it’s still a fantastic place to live. Tel Aviv, for example, is a thriving city with incredible food, great markets, a banging club scene, fashion, music, etc etc etc. It’s like Berlin with its street art and hipster stylings. I think that years of anti-Palestinian propaganda have had effects for sure, but there are still loads of left-leaning and centrist voters. They just need to unite behind one candidate and push the right OUT.

  8. Nene says:

    I am officially a fan of hers now. It seems like not a lot of people are willing to condemn what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians. It breaks my heart whenever I hear about what the Palestinians are going through

  9. Jay says:

    Many years ago she thought and said the opposite and I’m so glad to see this. What is happening to Palestinians AND Arab Israeli Christians is a human rights violation. It is apartheid, plain and simple. Thank you Natalie and thank you Celebitchy for actually posting this and not being of the mind that criticism of Israel is default and de facto anti Semitism!!

    • homeforholidays says:

      +1, yep, definitely noticed her changing stance and it’s good to sees she’s “getting it right” now.

  10. Aang says:

    Glad she spoke out. It’s very concerning that some US states are requiring government contractors and employees to agree to not boycott or divest from Israel. Too far in my opinion.

    • homeforholidays says:

      I just noted this above. These laws, a reflection of how powerful Israeli lobbyists are in US politics, will get struck down thanks to the 1st Amendment.