Actress Natalie Portman paid tribute to Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer and his concern for animal welfare in a film released by animal rights group PETA on Monday, in which she quoted a character from a Singer novel controversially comparing eating meat to Nazi-era atrocities.
In the video for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Portman quoted that narrator from Singer’s “Shosha” saying, “We do to God’s creatures what the Nazis did to us.”
Portman made headlines recently when she refused to accept the Genesis Prize Foundation award, nicknamed the “Jewish Nobel,” in Israel over political opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies.
In the video, made for the 40th anniversary of Singer winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, Portman compared the Jewish author’s story to her own.
“Isaac Singer grew up in the same part of Poland as my family,” said Portman in the video. “And like them, he fled the horrors of the Holocaust. But the cruelties he witnessed made Singer one of the most powerful writers of the 20th century.”
Singer, who died in 1991, wrote many novels, several of which were made into movies, including “Enemies, a Love Story” and “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy,” which became the movie “Yentl” starring Barbra Streisand.
Portland said the heroes in Singer’s novels were ahead of their time, championing women’s issues, gay rights, and especially animal rights. She said he “articulated the plight of animals so boldly that the modern world couldn’t ignore him.”
“I did not become a vegetarian for my health,” she quoted from Singer. “I did it for the health of the chickens.”
The film clip ends with a final quote from Singer: “As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.”
In 2009, a German court banned PETA from comparing meat eating to the Nazi slaughter of Jews, and forbade it to use photos of concentration camp inmates and other images of the Nazi genocide alongside photos of abused animals in a campaign it called Holocaust on your Plate.
The banned German PETA campaign included eight large panels showing black-and-white images of emaciated concentration camp inmates next to full color photos of chickens, turkeys and other animals fattened for the slaughter. One poster bore the slogan, in German, “Final Humiliation” and another read “For animals, all people are Nazis.” A photo of children in a concentration camp stood next to one of piglets in a stall. Under them was the caption “Child Butcher.”