Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash 90
Natalie Portman

(JNi.media) Israeli born actress Natalie Portman, whose great grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz, told the Independent that she believes Jewish education puts too much emphasis on the Holocaust. “I think a really big question the Jewish community needs to ask itself is how much at the forefront we put Jewish education, which is, of course, an important question to remember and to respect, but not over other things. We need to be reminded that hatred exists at all times and be reminded to be empathetic to other people who have experienced hatred also. Not used in a paranoid way of thinking that we are victims.”

Portman, 34, who starred in all three Star War’s prequels (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith), also portrayed Anne Frank in a 1997 Broadway revival. She recently made her directing debut with an adaption of Israeli novelist Amos Oz’s “Tale of Love and Darkness,” a story based on the life of his parents at the dawn of the Israeli state after the nightmare of the Holocaust. The actress returned to Jerusalem to shoot some scenes of the film. She was born in Jerusalem, but her family left for America when she was three years old.

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“Sometimes the Holocaust can be subverted to fear mongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen.’ We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, anti-Semitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I don’t need to make false equivalencies. We need it to serve as something that makes us empathetic to people rather than paranoid.”

Natalie Portman is a Harvard graduate, and, while enrolled at the University, responded to a an essay in the Harvard Crimson critical of Israeli actions against Palestinians. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and worked as a research assistant for Alan Dershowitz, author of “The Case for Israel,” “The Vanishing American Jew,” and “Chutzpah.” Portman also took graduate courses at Hebrew University.

Portman said she started forming these attitudes about Holocaust education when she realized that, when she was attending college, the Rawandan genocide was going on, and not nearly enough was being done about it. In 2007, she traveled to Rwanda to learn more about the genocide there. “I was shocked that the [genocide] was going on while I was in school. We were only learning about the Holocaust, and it was never mentioned what was happening while I was at school. That is exactly the kind of problem with the way it is taught. I think it needs to be taught, and I can’t speak for everyone, because this was my personal education.”

Not surprisingly, Natalie Portman’s remarks drew criticism. Colette Avital, former Labor MK and Chair of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust survivors in Israel, said, “While I agree with Natalie Portman that hatred exists in every part of the world, our area included, her understanding of the Holocaust seems limited. Natalie should understand that the Holocaust that befell us cannot be compared to other tragedies–our empathy notwithstanding. It was not merely hatred, it was a policy whose aim was to systematically wipe out a whole people from the face of the world.”

Aaron Goldstein of “The American Spectator” says the reason Portman’s comments about the Holocaust are so disturbing is not that she is just another pretty actress with an opinion, not that she, as stated by Colette Avital, has “limited” understanding of the Holocaust. But because her great grandparents died in Auschwitz, because she was born in Israel, and if “the Allies had been unable to liberate the concentration camps 70 years ago, and had Hitler and the Nazis triumphed, there would be no Natalie Portman, no Israel and no Jews. If an Israeli-born Jew whose ancestors were killed in Auschwitz doesn’t understand what separates the Holocaust from all other acts of genocide, then we have a big problem,” Goldstein writes. He thinks Portman’s views may be an indication of the feelings of other Israeli-born young Jews who are descended from Holocaust survivors. In addition, she is a public figure with a fan base, and is likely to influence others. Her statements arrive at a time when fewer and fewer people are still alive who witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust, and at this particular time, she questions the role of the Holocaust in Jewish education. Goldstein points out that Portman’s support for President Obama and her criticisms of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu over remarks he made on the eve of his re-election–which were offensive to Arabs–means that she might have been using her allegation to suggest that the Holocaust is used to promote “fear mongering” and “paranoid thinking” by those who oppose Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. “If she thinks Iran isn’t serious about wiping Israel off the map,” Goldstein writes, then it simply supports the idea that she doesn’t get what separates the Holocaust from all other acts of evil. That is why her comments are so deeply disturbing.”

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73 COMMENTS

  1. Nope. The young woman needs to pay more attention to the hate and violence building up against Jews around the world and realize it could happen again. That the world does nothing when other genocides occur such as the Armenians,Tutsi, Igbo, Yazidi, doesn’t mean the Holocaust should be ignored. It means that people haven’t changed.

  2. Wake up Miss Portman, the same spirit that drove Hitlers war machine is still very much at large, your existance was spared the first time around, you may not be so fortunate when this evil penetrates your now homeland. Obama hates Jews and loves Arabs, Arabs hate Jews, this is nothing new. The Arabs worked with the Nazi’s in the second world war and they are hard at work to eliminate every Jew from the face of the earth. By the way, I am not Jewish, but I can see the truth for what it is. We cannot let what happened in the Holocaust be forgotten. NEVER AGAIN.

  3. She’s a young lady and when we are young we think we know it all. Second is she doesn’t live in Israel and hasn’t experience the terrorism there with firebombs thrown at cars and houses. She wasn’t there when over 3 thousand rockets were shot at everywhere Israel. She’s a arrogant spoiled young brat that has let the power and money get to her head.

  4. I suppose it’s easy to say such things when you haven’t lived through it. Especially if you’re more concerned with political correctness.
    I am not Jewish. I was raised In a Christian home and always taught about the atrocities of the Holocaust. History repeats itself when we look away, ignore, and forget.
    Never forget.

  5. Portman gives new meaning to the concept of "Shonda." Perhaps those of like her who dwell in that 1% world chomping down canapes; still purchasing Chanel despite Coco Chanel's love-in with the head of German forces in Paris; agreeing with Obama how the deliberate murder of Jews in a kosher deli in Paris was merely an unfortunate killing in a grocery, are blissful with their ignorance? They are but the end result of our willingness to kowtow to being "PC" at the expense of denying the historical facts of the Holocaust.

    Given the fate of her own grandparents, apparently even having a college degree from such an elitist school (Harvard) does not grant common sense and a heart. How can Portman and her ilk not see how Europe's ugly anti-Semetism has arisen with a vigor, as evdienced by the BDS Movement, toleration of abuse and attacks on Jews in Belguim and France, and the eagerness of Europe to betray Israel as it lines up to export to the larger market of Iran?

  6. A(n Orthodox) teacher of mine, Rabbi David Hartman, ז"ל, used to say that while the Shoah (Holocaust) was important, it is not the defining moment of being a Jew. Neither were the Roman persecutions, the Crusades, the expulsions from Europe, the Inquisition, the Chmielnicki Uprising, the European pogroms, the Hevron and other massacres in pre-Israel Palestine, etc. etc. Yes, they were all tragic and major events in their time. But being a Jew means more than remembering the past tragedies; it means being part of and perpetuating the 3,500 year Jewish Tradition and community (going back to Moses and the Exodus).
    On the other hand, Reform teacher and theologian Emil Fackenheim, ע"ה (of U of Toronto and Hebrew U), used to teach that the Shoah was the defining moment of being a Jew today and that we "shouldn't give the Nazis a posthumous victory." It would appear that Portman is closer to Rabbi Hartman than Professor Fackenheim.
    (I would also add that my late mother in law while being Orthodox used to look at her grandchildren and say they were her victory over Hitler and the Nazis.)

  7. Liberalism is not a mental illness. I have always been a liberal, but I strongly oppose Obama, especially on Israel, I write evry day in support of Israel and the Jeish people (though I am not a Jew), I am deeply critical of Islam as a religion, an ideology, and a political system, I am opposed to mass immigration, I beliueve in democracy, the rule of law, free speech, human rights, gay rights, women's rights, and religious freedom. Those are all things a thinking liberal believes. Perhaps I am a conservative liberal, but above all I am a liberal in line with the Enlightment and the Americam constitution, the Declaration of Human Rights, and the separation of church and state. I am not a socialist, a Marxist, or a hard leftist, but I vote for the British Labour Party, never the Tories. Just what on earth do you believe in?

  8. I am sorry for all the wrongs in this world. But 20 million people were EXTERMINATED by the Nazis. Millions more are being slaughtered as I write this. So Natalie Portman and all your supporters answer me " Why is the Jews at fault that they will not let this happen to them again." What are you doing so this does not happen again to ANY group that is being EXTERMINATED.

  9. No,, this is something which must never be forgotten. There were Jews who were in denial about it when it happened – could the very civilized country (Germany) actually come to the point of committing such crimes against her own people. The hatred has gone no where, the rage has gone no where ;the lesson must remain in the forefront of everyone’s minds; it can happen to anyone and in any place.

  10. no she is not. She is wearing blinders. We would all like to think that would drove the Nazis won’t happen again. However, it is in the USA and abroad everyday people are being killed , or terrorist attacks are being foiled. We are at risk and the Holocaust unfortunately is the example to bring to the public.

  11. I don't care if she graduated from Harvard or not. Having great grandparents murdered in concentration camp should have been a lesson to her. Critisizing Israel for the treatment of Palestinians is the wrong attitude. While she was in Israel did she asked the Arabs who live in Jerusalem what will they do if the city is divided and will live under the PA controle because if she did she would have learn that more than half of them said: they will move in western Jlem. That's what happens when people are ignorant. With all my respect she might be a good actress but nothing else.

  12. holocaust affected a lot more then jews, it affected other races, it affected the disabled, it affected all the people and the families of the people who were being invaded by those jerks. Families were wiped out family fortunes were lost and a lot of evil was done. Nobody. Ever. Should Forget or downplay the holocaust. We should work hard to remember it as an example of what can happen when evil takes over.

  13. I don't agree with her.
    The remembrance of the Holocaust should remain very important in Jewish education to remind us to how the world (not only the Nazis) can turn against us regardless of time and space.
    But Jewish "national education" should put even more emphasis on how we can prevent another such disaster happening.
    And as our whole history proves, all our writings and our greatest sages tell us the remedy is Jewish national unity and absolute mutual responsibility towards each other.
    Regardless of where Jews happen to live, regardless of what they do or what they studied.

  14. Perhaps Natalie Portman might be right to expect equal reaction from millions of her generation, maybe ashamed of the supposed weakness showed in front of the enemy in WWII. Many died because they felt rooted to Germany, Austria, France, Italy…best places to live at that time. It is the same right now!! Rooted to USA, ENGLAND, FRANCE, then just in case of WAR, where are the Jews OF Diaspora running away to but to the Land of Israel?!! The unique and ultimate home for all jewish people!! The people in Israel had worked the land and deserves respect and consideration from everysingle jew in the Diaspora. IS SHE feeling ashamed for the old guys remembering the pain of Holocaust, expecting them to live without the scares?! NOT POSSIBLE. But she can quit being a Diaspora Jew and exploit her talents in favor of the Israelites living somewhere in Isarel for the rest of her life. (not waitting to long until she becomes old) Israel wants you to do teshuva and become the voice of a whole generation of strong believers in the progress and welfare of Israel. NATALIE IS RIGHT, SHE NEEDS TO BE ACCEPTED AND FEEL WELCOME TO ISRAEL. Forgive her faults, love her much. SHE IS PURE JEWISH TALENT!! Love to all.

  15. I agree with you! The Holocaust was a horrific example of how hate can destroy a people. To say it can't happen again is terribly ignorant based on the comments from Iran and Hezbollah. To say it WILL happen again maybe unlikely because I do believe God has this in control! However the Holocaust should be taught and used as an example also of how a people can come back strong, but without the hate that many times rules those who have had atrocities commited against them. Israel is a mighty, strong, and wonderful nation, its people have never lost their dignity, and they behave with honor. They are Gods chosen for a reason, they are an inspiration to me and a perfect lesson of what can happen when people turn a blind eye to the reality of hate in this world and what it can do if left unchecked. NEVER AGAIN! God bless Israel!

  16. she may have a degree but she is not too smart when we can all see hatred being spawned all around aimed at destroying Israel, she may be the kind of person who could never believe what was going on right in front of her, she may be in denial, whatever it is, she couldn't be more wrong. In choosing not to stress the truth of this horrific historical reality it numbs people to the true horrors that took place and sets up a pattern that leans toward disbelief that it ever took place to begin with..silly girl..can't blame her, she is from a galaxy far far away right?

  17. Truly, is this anything more than Natalie Hershlag Portman justifying her life as a Hollywood elitist who went to Harvard, won an award for acting, married a French dancer and now desires to be among the left leaning self hating internationalist elite? Y kids went to high school with her and she lead quite the charmed life to now be dictating correct and tasteful behavior. This is history whose themes are both specific to Jews and universal for humanity and for her to make such a statement belies the last decade of history for Jews, Israel and the world that has suffered at the hands of those who want ancient history to repeat itself.

  18. I agree with her to some extent. We remember the Holocaust and learn little from it. The first and most important lesson is Jews cannot depend on the rest of the world to protect them. During the Holocaust all doors were closed to Jewish refugees. The Holocaust should have taught us that we need a strong Israel. The world doesn't care about the Jews but they do respect the 200 or so nuclear warheads possessed by Israel.

  19. Natalie is a woman and an actress, she doesn’t know about and doesn’t have the knowledge to talk about this subject, unless she said ( this is my personal believe)

    We think just because many people know her she can say something smart . And it is not

  20. Further study? Well, if she makes statements like this, she should have detailed rationale as to why, chapter and verse, so to speak. However, I can’t imagine what it could be. She impresses as a vacuous superficial nonentity, sadly. Enough already.

  21. Jews should be concentrating a little bit more for the present and the future, especially, the present danger of a new Holocaust. That promised by Iran and aided by Obama. Or maybe pay attention of the Buddhist,Christian, Yazidi, as well as Jewish victims of victims of moslem terror.

  22. Depending on which Yeshiva or Day School you go to, emphasis on Holocaust history will vary.
    While it’s true that there is a need to have grade school and high school graduates master a certain level of comprehension I also believe that there should be exposure to other tragic historical events as well.
    As a public school teacher in the inner city of NY I can say that Holocaust studies are non-existent.
    I don’t necessarily agree that there needs to be a relaxing of the subject but I also don’t think it should be the only genocide that students learn about.

  23. There is nothing about her that indicates she's a self-hating Jew. She might be right if she is saying that for the vast majority of Jews, Judaism has become all/only about the Holocaust and Israel. Well that is not how the Jewish people and Judaism will flourish. So I hope that's what she is refering to.

  24. There is nothing about her that indicates she's a self-hating Jew. She might be right if she is saying that for the vast majority of Jews, Judaism has become all/only about the Holocaust and Israel. Well that is not how the Jewish people and Judaism will flourish. So I hope that's what she is refering to.

  25. It’s just like the Palestinians, after 60 years, they still refer to themselves as refugees when by choice they stayed there. And again, after 60 years, they refer to their towns as camps which is absolutely untrue.
    They use this terminology to gain world sympathy.
    There are too many countries that would love to see another holocaust. Israel needs to keep the holocaust in the forefront. The Jews use “holocaust”. So hopefully the sane ones will avert a repeat of one of the world’s worst slaughter of innocent humanity.

  26. Jews must realize teaching the Holocaust does not enlightened the deranged, it only whets their appetite for more Jew blood. The savates are un-educatable. Better spend good energy teaching the spiritual truth of Torah and Israel, rather than the hell of non-Jewish barbaric entertainment.

  27. Alan Kardon He has a good point, while the holocaust was extremely tragic, there are many other things that we should emphasize. If we focus too much on tragedy, the children don't want to be part of that. We need to show students how being Jewish is a beautiful thing, and the Torah and mitzvos spiritually fulfill us and spread goodness.

  28. NO she is very incorrect. If we forget what happened to the Jewish people, we are doomed to repeat it. I disagree vehemently with YOU, Miss Portman. If you’re going to enter into political discussions, please be informed and know what the hell you’re talking about! A suggestion…go and live among the arabs for a while…then come back and tell us about it.

  29. Portman is very wrong in what she says and her words only stoke the fires of antisemitism around the world. She clearly does not understand the immensity and the horror of the Holocaust or the fact that if we choose to forget our past we are destined to repeat it, however barbaric that may be. In light of the genocide, mass rape, beheadings and torture being perpetrated by ISIS and other equally totalitarian and freedom hating groups you would have thought that remembering how this type of evil can escalate around the world would be paramount to any civilized society.

  30. Why make a business out of this Jews News. Holocaust happened and is unlike any other genocide , and no chillax. Her idiotic comments are out of place and must apologize to the survivors and all of us who cares. She does not care about Israel , all she cares is to say something stupid to gain some ratings. Ignorants like her should not be heard or seen

  31. Natalie just lost my vote. Obviously she is another self hating bleeding heart Liberal Jew who will bend over backwards to show how empathatic she is to minorities, until and unless it is Jewish. Obviously Jews are not worthy of empathy.

  32. The JP writers ("reporters") need to STOP sensationalizing articles in order to get readers. Does Portman really say "Jews need to chillax about the Holocaust"? I don't think so. I came away from this article with the opposite idea. She wants people to use that knowledge of the Holocaust to work toward ending all genocides still going on around the world. Wasn't that clear from the article? Why is the author trying to make her look like a jerk and put words in her mouth. Sensationalizing will just result in a loss of readership for you. I'm getting bored of article titles meant as a bad come on to read the story. This reflects poorly on the Jewish Press.

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