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Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 25 May, 2019

Natalie Portman has spoken out about Israel again, calling their Nation-state law 'racist'

Many believe that the Nation-state law reduces Arab citizens to second class citizens.

LA Premiere of Vox Lux Source: Jordan Strauss

POLITICS IS A tricky subject for celebrities. 

Some celebrities are so adamant on staying out of politics that they won’t speak out on issues that they can safely take a public stance on like agreeing with same-sex marriage or disapproving of the rise of white supremacy in recent years, while others will get involved in any political scrap they can find. 

One issue that a lot of celebrities in recent years have been struggling to form a coherent stance on is the Israeli military occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land. (See: Lana Del Rey booking a gig in Israel and the shitstorm that ensued afterwards.

Natalie Portman, however, has been publicly standing her ground against Israel all year. The 37-year-old actress was born in Jerusalem and is one of the most famous Jewish people in the world. Because of this, she was set to receive Israel’s version of the Nobel Prize (an award called the Genesis Prize) in April of this year but she abruptly cancelled her visit as she “did not want to appear to be endorsing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”. In a statement she wrote:

Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust, but the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. 

Needless to say, Portman’s stand against Netanyahu really bothered Israeli politicians, who were calling for her citizenship to be stripped because her decision had “elements of anti-Semitism”. 

Then yesterday, Natalie Portman spoke out about Israel’s Nation-state law. 

Hello from beautiful Venice! #Venezia75 #VoxLux #dior

A post shared by Natalie Portman (@natalieportman) on

This law was passed in July 2018 and it declares that Israel is not only a Jewish state, but that ‘united Jerusalem’ is its capital city, ignoring the 20% of the population who identify as Arab citizens.

The law states that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people”, establishes Hebrew as the official language of Israel while downgrading Arabic to a “special status” and establishes “Jewish settlement as a national value”, according to an explainer from Vox that you can read if you’re curious about the impact that Israel’s Nation-state law will have on Palestinians. (Spoiler alert: it’s not just bad because it reduces them to second class citizens but it’s undemocratic, too.)

So what does Natalie Portman think of it? Well, according to a statement she gave an Arabic newspaper called Al Quds Al- Arabi, Portman said:

The Nation-state law is racist. It is a mistake and I don’t agree with it. Lives are affected on a personal level by decisions made by politicians. I only hope that we will be able to truly love our neighbours and that we can work together. 

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Kelly Earley

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