Many people have made themselves fools over the row between Natalie Portman and the Genesis Prize Foundation. Not least the actress herself.
By first accepting, then rejecting this year’s Genesis Prize, the US-Israeli movie star has sunk as low as UK Jewish film director, Mike Leigh who in autumn 2010 cancelled a carefully planned visit to Israel when and where he had been due to teach part of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School’s “Great Masters” programme with Palestinians among his students.
Portman’s statement claiming that she has been ‘mischaracterised’ employs similar language to that used by Leigh in his cancellation letter to the film school founding director, Renen Schorr. She has also shown herself misguided and unschooled by her reference to the Holocaust which was the catalyst, not the reason for Israel’s establishment 70 years ago.
Much worse, however, is that she has previously paraded her dual US-Israeli citizenship; enjoyed an unimpeachable record in her support for Israeli causes and culture; once worked as a researcher for famed US lawyer and Israel advocate, Professor Alan Dershowitz and most remarkably, made a Hebrew language film version of Amos Oz’s memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness.
While equally silly are those suggesting her latest actions have been traitorous and anti-Jewish, it is hard to deny that she has given a tremendous fillip to the hitherto failing Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign.
Those behind the prize have now cancelled this year’s event. I suggest that the entire enterprise be dismantled. A little research shows the organisation to be egregiously Russo-centric, with retiring Jewish Agency chief, Natan Sharansky as chairman of the prize selection committee. Instead, as I’ve seen suggested on social media, perhaps the foundation should consider donating its funds to the ground-breaking Keep Olim in Israel Movement or failing that - to an organisation that encourages Arab-Jewish integration. There are several Israeli schools that have already achieved this.
As regular ‘laptop warriors’, my husband and I have been fighting Israel’s cause during the past month, quoting the truthful facts and figures against the distortions and outrageous lies propagated by the Hamas terrorist organisation as part of its current ‘March of Return’.
But it’s by no means easy. It seems simple to repeat the real figures, damn the faked photographs and expose the terrorists. But it is very hard to justify Israel’s actions at this time – like too many similar occasions in recent years.
Just as I have compared Portman and Leigh, here I must point out that the IDF’s current actions at the southern Israel-Gaza border are no different from those of 31 May 2010, when nine civilians were killed after Israeli naval officers boarded the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of a six-ship flotilla manned by pro-Palestinian activists.
And like the Gaza flotilla incident, described later as a “well-thought-out provocation against Israel”, so the current March of Return has been an astutely orchestrated, well executed Hamas publicity stunt for which Israel has fallen - hook, line and sinker!
So, the recent casualties were either almost all terrorists posing as demonstrators or had terrorist-links? For shame! Those shot by IDF personnel may well have been dangerous, even evil. They were also disaffected young hot-heads who had been encouraged to aspire to glorious ‘martyrdom’ since earliest childhood.
I am convinced that with proper planning, the present incited riots could have been contained without deaths or even substantial injuries. No wonder Israel’s response has again been called ‘disproportionate’. This time, our critics are not wholly wrong.
If the border fence were made much higher and manufactured with plenty of razor wire, that would stop the so-called protestors from trying to burst through it. If water cannon had been used instead of live bullets, it would have doused the firebombs’ flames - and quenched the bombers’ ardour!
This nagging, continual war of attrition is not just about the complexities of rockets and subterranean tunnels. There will always be yet another assault - and one more still. Israel’s enemies are addicted to hatred and to death. We must not follow them in this. So there must be non-lethal, straight-forward solutions to the daily battle of keeping border fencing secure and agricultural land free from attack. Let’s devise them now – and fast!
© Natalie Wood (25 April 2018)