Natalie Portman criticises exclusive Shoah focus in schools

Natalie Portman criticises exclusive Shoah focus in schools

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman
Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman


by Stephen Oryszczuk

Hollywood star Natalie Portman has warned Jewish educators against focusing exclusively on the Holocaust.

In an interview with The Independent, the Israeli-born actress said her teachers were so focused on the Shoah that they didn’t even mention the genocide in Rwanda, which was taking place at the time.

“I think a really big question the Jewish community needs to ask itself, is how much at the forefront we put Holocaust education, which is, of course, an important question to remember and to respect, but not over other things,” she said.

Portman, 34, broke onto the screen in 1994, as a child actor playing alongside Jean Russo in cult classic ‘Leon.’ She has subsequently starred in ‘V for Vendetta,’ ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and ‘Black Swan,’ for which she won an Oscar.

In later years, she was been increasingly vocal on several subjects, criticising Benjamin Netanyahu for “racist comments” in the run-up to this year’s election, and on Holocaust education, where she has now called for a wider appreciation of other genocides to be built into the teaching.

“It needs to be taught,” she said, after having visited a museum on the Rwandan genocide. “We need to be reminded that hatred exists at all times and reminds us to be empathetic to other people that have experienced hatred also, not used as a paranoid way of thinking that we are victims. Sometimes it can be subverted to fear-mongering and like ‘another Holocaust is going to happen’.”

Portman is currently promoting her new film, ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness,’ which she directed. It is adapted from Israeli author Amos Oz’s memoir about Israel’s early years and the impact it had on his family.

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