Last Thursday, the Genesis Prize announced it was cancelling its so-called “Jewish Nobel” prize ceremony in Israel in June because its 2018 recipient, Natalie Portman, said she would not take part in light of “recent events.”
The Jewish foundation said that Portman’s representative notified it that “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel” and that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”
According to the Forward, Portman didn’t reject the prize itself, but said she could not “in good conscience” share a stage with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
So again, the Israelis are upset. Gilad Erdan, minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and minister of Information wrote to Portman to tell her that she had been hoodwinked by Hamas propaganda and invited the Jerusalem-born Hollywood star to come and see the truth.
“It is not surprising that you have seen the media reports which have distorted the truth and portrayed the recent riots on the Israel-Gaza border as peaceful demonstrations, and Israel’s response as disproportionate. It is in fact precisely this narrative which Hamas hoped to portray when it organised the riots. Unfortunately it appears that this Hamas-designed narrative has impacted your decision.”
Is Erdan, as it seems, admitting that Hamas has defeated him and his Hasbara ministry in the propaganda war? I would like to correct Erdan, ’riots’ isn’t really the appropriate description of a mass protest by those incarcerated in the biggest open air prison known to man. Outside the Jewish ghetto it is seen as a ‘liberation struggle.’
Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev lambasted Portman, saying she had “fallen into the hands” of the BDS campaign that aims to isolate the Jewish state.
Likud MK Oren Hazan demanded that Israel cancel Portman’s Israeli citizenship, and labelled her “an Israeli Jewess who on the one hand makes cynical use of her origins in order to advance her career and who, on the other hand, prides herself on having avoided being drafted into the IDF.”
The take home message is simple and devastating. Tolerance and pluralism don’t seem to be the prime characteristics of Jewish politics. What we see instead is the expectation that the entire tribe adhere to a single ideology. It seems that Israel’s leading party does not accept that Portman is openly upset by the images of Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian protesters as if they were sitting ducks.
Sadly, this form of authoritarian behaviour is not limited to Israel. Here in Britain the Jewish ‘so-called’ representative bodies exercise the same tyrannical tendencies.
Recently we watched an organised Jewish campaign against Labour leader and lifelong anti-racist, Jeremy Corbyn. When Corbyn celebrated the Passover dinner with Jewdas, a radical progressive Jewish group, other British Jewish organisations reacted with the same intolerance.
Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC Radio, Jonathan Arkush, the president of the BOD, a body that claims to ‘represent British Jews’ said: “What Jeremy Corbyn did last night was the very thing which we wrote to him about last week . . . stop giving credence to ultra-fringe groups that say anti-Semitic things, who are far from representative.” One would expect the BOD that claims to ‘represent Jews’ to represent all Jews including the so-called Jewish fringe.
The Jewish Labour Movement said Mr Corbyn’s attendance at the Jewdas Seder “topped off the worst week on record of awful relations between the Labour party and the Jewish community.” Apparently the Jewish Labour Movement also do not approve of the Jewish Fringe. Campaign Against anti-Semitism called Mr Corbyn’s meeting with Jewdas a “two-fingered salute against mainstream British Jewry.” I would remind the Campaign Against Antisemitsm that what is seen by some as a ‘two fingered salute’ is seen by others as a ‘V’ for victory.
I thank Natalie Portman, Jonathan Arkush, Gilad Erdan, the Jewish Labour Movement, Campaign Against Antisemitism and of course Jeremy Corbyn. Together they provide a window into authoritarian tribalism. In fact, it would be impossible to fully grasp the tragic continuum known as Jewish history without prospecting the Jewish present as it fully unveils itself.