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US actress Natalie Portman turns down Israeli award over Gaza violence

Natalie Portman turns down invitation to attend award festival to protest recent events in Israel.

American actress Natalie Portman has turned down an invitation to attend a festival in Israel — where she had been slated to receive an award — to protest ongoing Israeli violence against Palestinians, Israeli media reported on Friday.

According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Portman — who holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship — turned down the invitation as a means of protesting “recent events in Israel”.

The actress had been slated to receive a prize awarded each year to internationally recognized Jewish personalities.

According to the newspaper, Portman’s managers told the organizers of the Genesis Prize that the actress would be unable to attend due to “recent events in Israel” — an apparent reference to ongoing Israeli violence against Palestinian demonstrators arrayed along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border.

Israeli daily Haaretz, meanwhile, referred to a 2015 interview Portman gave to the Hollywood Reporter in which she expressed strong opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s Channel 2 quoted the award organizers as saying that Portman was “a highly respected actress and community activist… We respect her right to reject Israeli government policies”.

Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev, for her part, expressed her “regret” over Portman’s decision, suggesting that the actress had “succumbed” to the pressures of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS movement seeks to end international support for Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.

Since Palestinians first began holding mass rallies along Gaza’s eastern border on Mar. 30, at least 36 protesters have been killed — and hundreds more injured — by cross-border Israeli army gunfire, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

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