The new law discriminates against non-Jewish Israeli citizens.
Actress Natalie Portman spoke harshly against Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, when it came to the subject of the “nation-state law” which passed during the summer. The controversial law gave Israel the legal recognition of being exclusively Jewish despite a significant population of Arabs. In her interview with BBC, she described the law as “racist” and publicly expressed disagreement with it.
Non-Jewish Arabs constitute one-fifth of the total Israeli population. They are a majority in Gaza and the West Bank. The international community has long blamed Israel of human rights abuses coupled with institutionalized discrimination against non-Jews.
The law in the center of the storm has the name “Basic Law.” It does the job of setting Hebrew as the national language. It also states Jews have the “unique” claim to self-determination. The law defines Jerusalem as Israel’s united capital city, conveniently skirting the fact the city is occupied in part by Palestinians who have also laid a claim to make the ancient metropolis their capital.
The law was sponsored by the Likud Party, which is headed by PM Netanyahu, and it was formally passed in July. The law drew fierce criticism across the board, both from Israeli Jews and from Jews staying outside the country for pushing Arabic to the status of a non-official language. Criticism was also reserved for expansion of Jewish settlements and promoting the Jewish religion when it came to legal matters. Supporters of the bill have also shot back, saying the bill only codifies a longstanding fact concerning Israel’s identity.
The most interesting thing about Natalie Portman condemning Israel’s racist nation state law was that is was in a press junket interview with a Palestinian newspaper, and the journalist posed the question by pointing to the difference in their status under the law https://t.co/bIZrsdi8IA
— Rebecca Pierce? (@aptly_engineerd) December 13, 2018
In her interview, Portman said it is hard for her to come from a place where such laws exist. She explained her stance saying, “It’s like your family ― you love them the most and you also feel the most critical.” A number of critics have compared the law to apartheid. Supporters of the law have struck back, claiming that criticism of this law points to anti-Semitism.
For the actress, this is not the first time she has publicly criticized Israel. Portman, during earlier months of 2018, has said she will not make the trip to Israel to accept the Genesis Prize award. The latter terms itself a “Jewish Nobel.” She, however, added she does not support the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.