Natalie Portman's Directorial Debut Protested In Israel, Called A ‘Foreign Invasion’

Natalie Portman's Directorial Debut Protested In Israel, Called A 'Foreign Invasion'

Ultra-orthodox protesters decried Portman's film shoot in Jerusalem

Natalie Portman found herself in the center of a firestorm in Jerusalem Tuesday as ultra-Orthodox protesters denounced her presence as she was filming her directorial debut “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” an adaptation of Amos Oz's autobiographical novel.

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While the film shoot has the support of Jerusalem Film Fund and the city municipality, locals were incensed, reportedly scrawling graffiti nearby the shooting that said “foreign invasion.”

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Rachel Azaria also told Israel's Channel 10 that he had received a scathing letter lashing out at Portman and the film crew.

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“The film shooting is set to take place on several sensitive streets close to synagogues and yeshivas, and the scenes being filmed should have been examined first to make sure they don't offend anybody's sensitivities,” the angry residents seethed.

While it may seem curious for residents to have their pitchforks out for Portman, who was born in Jerusalem and speaks fluent Hebrew, Israel's ultra-Orthodox community is hostile to most film productions and put extreme emphasis on modesty.


  • Topaz

    Coming out of the Old City of Jerusalem in Israel, my wife and I boarded a bus and the Black Hats immediately held up their bibles to shield their eyes from her shorts. This was a gesture designed to insult her rather than simply hide from her legs. They could just as easily have looked away and avoided trying to embarrass her. Their agenda is not inclusive, it is combative. On another visit to the City, we went up a stone staircase and soon realized it wasn't a thruway as we had expected. It was, in fact, the entrance to a Yeshiva (School-Boys only, of course). Upon exiting the structure, we encountered a fat Black Hat wagging his finger at us for our transgression. I subsuquently wagged a certain digit at him and told him where to put his judgement. A young Black Hat then followed me down the hill of stone we were walking on to intimidate me. I quickly stepped aside and he was caught facing me. I offered to tussle if that would satisfy him, but he declined and went back to his twisted mentor. This is what these people are like. They live to destroy anything that is different from them, and pass judgement with impunity. They bring to mind radical Muslims, or fanatical Christians in this country who want to replace secular government with their version of the Taliban. They are all the same. Of course, we musn't forget the second class status of women. That is fundamental to their approach to life. Natalie Portman is a woman. A woman in a position of responsibility who is not asking men for permission to live. She is their enemy. Period.

    • disqusdisgust

      They held up their bibles to cover their eyes. Good. Your wife in shorts was lucky. Some muslims would have raped and then beheaded your ugly wife…

      • neversink

        As your name implies — you are disgusting. Just like the rest of the Haredim who live on welfare, pretend that they should be exempt from military service because they ha e to study the Torah 24/7!!!!

        • Alan in Tel-Aviv

          The Haredim get away with it, neversink, because the government allows them. In any future coalition, the religious political parties will tilt the balance of power in favor of the secular leaders and receive in return largesse in the form of welfare, army exemption, subsidies, nepotism, and all this without having to work a day in their life.

    • Alan in Tel-Aviv

      A little derech Eretz (Way Of The World), Topaz. Your wife scantily glad (I exaggerate for effect) getting on a bus full of Haredim isn't wise. And then to enter a Yeshiva in her garb was another booboo. When in Rome….you know the rest. And hope you enjoyed Jerusalem and all of Israel, too. It's a great country.

  • Michael Difani

    Come on, a “foreign invasion” is what happened over 40 yrs. ago during the Yom Kippur War. Had it not been for Tricky Dick Nixon and the USAF airlifts besides replacing every tank the IDF lost, Israel might have been overwhelmed.

  • seriouslyd

    I always find this second class status interesting as Judaism is matriarchal. Just on the “Hmm List…”

    • neversink

      Judaism is matriarchal, only in certain aspects”. The men control all the social, educational and career rules for women in the Haredim society, even arranging marriages.

  • neversink

    Israel is a great place, but I wish the Haredim would take responsibility for their own country, and stop being separitists. Not all Haredim are separatists, but too many want to live in a world set apart from everything else. They should be happy to defend Israel, the only democratic and multicultural nation in the Mideast where women have equal rights, and you can freely worship any religion without fear of persecution

  • davidas

    Hello, folks. Just to set the record straight – this whole issue is a storm in a teacup. My entire family and I live in Nachla'ot Jerusalem, the 175 year old neighborhood where Ms. Portman shot portions of the movie. We are an extremely observant weJewish family, my daughters attend parochial school and love this neighborhood, not only for its central location and character, but also for its “slice of life” ambience – we have friends and neighbors who are not observant, others who are traditional, reform; others who are not Jewish and others who would be referred to as ultra-ultra-Orthodox (unfortunately in ridicule). During the week or so that the production company was filming here, most of the locals found the crew and actors to be polite and extremely considerate of those who live in the immediate area. They were quiet and made every effort to be as un-intrusive as possible. The complaints about lack of “modesty” are 99% false and contrived. Most of the actors were dressed for winter scenes, covered by jackets, long skirts which were the fashion in the years portrayed in the film. A few people from other neighborhoods and who have political ambitions did voice complaint, but they do not represent the general feelings of most of the residents. That's there right. Most people's attention was rightfully taken up by the extremely creative and talented artwork of the set designers and craftsmen. How, with minimalist use of paint and boards transformed our carbon-jammed modern-funky neighborhood into its replica of simpler times. The crew set a good example for filmmakers everywhere.

    • neversink

      Thanks for posting. Your post gives me a better feeling. It is amazing how a few can can gain the attention of the media. Why wasn't your experience and that of most of your neighbors included in the article?