Natalie Portman slams Israel’s nation-state law as ‘racist’
Jerusalem-born actress tells BBC’s Arabic channel she disagrees with legislation, which enshrines Israel as Jewish homeland, does not specify equal rights for all citizens
JTA — Natalie Portman isn’t a fan of Israel’s controversial nation-state law, which defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people but does not specify equal rights for all Israeli citizens.
The Jerusalem-born actress slammed the law, which was criticized as it was debated and adopted over the summer, in an interview with BBC’s Arabic language channel broadcast Sunday.
“It’s racist and there’s nothing else to say about that,” Portman said. “It’s wrong and I disagree with that.”
Israel passed the law, which was sponsored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, in July. It drew ire from Jews in Israel and abroad for appearing to relegate Arabic to non-official language status, promoting the status of the Jewish religion in legal matters, and not specifying equal rights for all Israeli citizens.
Others have defended it as codification of longstanding agreed-upon facts about Israel’s identity, and noted that existing legislation provides for equal rights.
This isn’t Portman’s first time speaking out about her views on Israel. Earlier this year, Portman said she would not travel to Israel to receive the Genesis Prize, an award which calls itself the “Jewish Nobel.”
“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,” Portman wrote in an Instagram post explaining her decision, adding that she does not endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish state.
The Jewish actress, now doing press for her latest film “Vox Lux,” has been supportive of Israel in the past. In 2015, she directed and starred in “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” a Hebrew-language film adaptation of an Amos Oz book of the same name that chronicles the author’s life around the time of Israel’s founding.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.