Sunday, April 22, 2018

Natalie Portman’s Shallow Perspective

Natalie Portman (Wikipedia)
I shouldn’t have been so surprised at all the attention Natalie Portman has been getting for her decision boycott a Genesis Prize ceremony in Israel. Portman was the latest recipient of this prize:
The Genesis Prize honors individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and who inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and/or the State of Israel. 
Her initial comments indicated that the reason for her refusal to attend was because of ‘recent events’. Which was a reference to the way Israel was handling weekly protests by Palestinians in Gaza amassing on its border. They are protesting their horrid living conditions. Conditions that are due primarily to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

On the surface one might agree that Israel’s use of live ammunition against unarmed Gaza civilians protesting the hard life for which they blame Israel - as immoral. This is the way the mainstream media reports it. And obviously how Portman sees it.

The reaction to Portman’s decisions by many supporters of Israel has been to condemn her – and paint her as a BDS supporter.  She was quick to deny that, claiming that the reason she refused to attend was because Prime Minister Netanyahu would be addressing the ceremony and she did no want to be seen supporting him by her attendance.

I find all of this attention curious. Why does anyone care that a celebrity like Portman (who is being honored for her very celebrity via her acting ability) is boycotting a ceremony in Israel? Her views are either uninformed or are more likely based on her own political perspective rather than on any objective consideration.  It is a perspective shared by some of the more vocal critics of the Democratic Party, who see things the same way Portman does. None of the other Democrats in congres have (to the best of my knowledge) defended Israel against those critics.

Their hate for Netanyahu was made abundantly clear when he addressed congress during the Obama administration - urging the US to reject the nuclear deal with Iran. Some Democrats actually boycotted Netanyahu's address. But even those that attended were highly critical of him and the Speaker of the House who invited him. 

Portman was born in Israel. I suppose that is part of the reason people pay any attention at all to her views on Israel. But being born in Israel does not make her views any more valid that Mahmoud Abbas’s views are. Abbas was born in Haifa.

Portman is Jewish. Perhaps that is also why she is given attention. It is true that she is Jewish. She was born of a Jewish mother. End of story. But her lifestyle hardly reflects that fact. Someone whose Judaism consists of marrying a non Jew (who later ‘converted’) and putting up a Christmas tree in her home, hardly makes her values consistent with Judaism. 

Portman is known for her social activism. While some of her activities along those lines may be in in concert with Jewish values, they are hardly exclusively Jewish. True she was born a Jew and that makes her Jewish. Being born Jewish lends no more credence to her sense of Judaism than it did to Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter. He too was born a Jew too. He founded Murder, Inc.

I am not comparing Portman to Buchalter. Just noting that one’s lifestyle is indicative of their values. Neither Portman nor Buchalter’s lifestyle is indicative Jewish values.

I will take Portman’s word for it and grant that she does not support BDS. But that does not make her decision any wiser. As I said, it is likely informed by her brand of politics. A view that ignores the Israel’s right as a sovereign nation to decide how to best defend itself. 

Portman’s views are shallow. She sees what’s on the surface: An oppressed population in Gaza being controlled by a mighty military oppressor using lethal weapons against unarmed civilians.

There is no attempt to understand why Israel, a country that has done so much kindness in the world, found it necessary to protect itself that way. 

Israelis are the original ‘Doctors without Borders’. Where ever there has been a catastrophe in the world, Israel is practically the first one there to help. They do not look at the race or religion of the people suffering.  Even when Israel’s enemies are involved. They saw a need by Syrians injured in their civil war and filled it. They treated them in field hospitals and in even their own hospitals in Israel as needed. Does it make any sense that this kind of people would use more force than they believed necessary to protect themselves? 

If Israel uses live ammunition, it isn’t because they want to kill Gaza protesters indiscriminately. Even under warlike conditions Israeli soldiers try to minimize casualties to the innocent among their enemies at increased risk to themselves. It was not beneath Hamas leaders to make sure Israel kills innocent children by using them as human shields!
The same thing is happening now. They are forcing Israel into a corner and then crying foul. These protesters are not peaceful. True they don’t have guns. But they do have deadly weapons such as Molotov Cocktails. Israel is not going to respond with their own Molotov cocktails. They are going to shoot at someone throwing it at them. The mainstream media reports this as Israelis shooting at unarmed civilians  protesting conditions forced upon them by the Israeli government. A truly disgusting distortion of the truth.

I cannot stress enough the fact that none of this would be happening if Gaza’s Hamas leaders had taken Israels gift of Gaza and tried to build a country instead of spending every dollar they got building terror tunnels and arming themselves with all kinds of weapons. Including rockets supplied by Iran - hidden among the very goods that are vital to Gaza. But blockaded to prevent those things being smuggled in and used to kill innocent Israelis They care more about destroying Israel than they do about their own people.  And in the process they get to blame their sorry predicament on Israel’s blockade.

The protests are about lifting the blockade.  And a sympathetic world agrees - completely ignoring Israel’s security needs.

There is not a question in my mind that Israel would not boycott Gaza if it didn’t see it as an existential exercise. If Gaza’s Hamas leaders would have taken Gaza graciously and asked Israel to help them build their country, Israel would have jumped at the chance. Israel is not interested in maintaining the conflict. But Gaza’s Hamas leaders see only one goal. And it isn’t about giving their people a better life. It is about destroying Jewish Israel and taking the land for Islam. 

If Natalie Portman had any real sense of compassion, and really wanted to help the down trodden Palestinians in Gaza, she should understand that Gaza’s real oppressors are its Hamas leadership. Her celebrity would be put to far better use had she not boycotted the Genesis ceremony. And instead used it as an opportunity to assert the truth about what is really going on there instead of her knee-jerk reaction to boycott it.

Had she done that she would have done more for the cause of Gaza to alleviate its suffering than a hundred boycotts.  What she has accomplished instead is giving a boost the Palestinian narrative and has encouraged Gaza’s Hamas leadership to continue their terrorist ways.