Last weekend, Natalie Portman attended a conversation between Israelis and Palestinians held at the Paris Peace Forum. After the meeting, the Jewish actress and writer, who was born Natalie Hershlag in Israel, shared a profoundly moving message of solidarity with the families of the hostages.
“To all of the families — I was lucky enough to meet some of you the other day,” she said, her face grave and emotional, “I’m so horrified at the experiences that your family members had to go through and are still going through today.”
She shared that she joins their call to the international community “to end this humanitarian disaster, this multinational humanitarian disaster, and to protect women and children, the elderly, all the people, innocent people, who are suffering right now.”
She ended with a message of shared grief: “I am with you. I cry with you. I hold you in my thoughts and I join you in this cry to bring them back now.”
“I am with you, I cry with you I hold you in my thoughts.” – #natalieportman
— Creative Community for Peace (@CCFPeace) November 14, 2023
Yael Braudo-Bahat, the director of the peace organization Women Wage Peace, shared a selfie she took with Portman during the summit, saying that “we all know that peace is the only solution that will bring security to all people in the region.”
Portman’s call was shared on the page of Bring Them Home Now, an organization of “families and friends of hundreds of innocent abductees from 30 nationalities taken hostage by Hamas,” according to its Instagram bio. The video was part of a post talking about how the violence against women that took place on October 7 needs to be denounced by women’s organization. Portman is a longtime activist for women’s rights and against gender-based violence. Among other things, she’s a supporter of the Spotlight Initiative, which is a global UN-EU initiative to end gender-based violence.
“Women were murdered and raped. Others were abducted from their homes in front of their children. Women’s organizations have neglected their role and abandoned the hostages in Gaza,” the organization wrote.
On Monday of this week, at the Families Headquarters in Tel Aviv, Bring Them Home Now presented “testimonies of sexual assaults, mothers separated from their young children who were kidnapped to Gaza, and women dealing with complex illnesses and in life-threatening situations.” This presentation, they wrote, “highlights the significant dangers faced by close to 100 kidnapped individuals currently in Gaza.” The Families Headquarters urged the public to share a message with Sima Bahous, the executive director of UN Women, saying that “the heinous sexual crimes committed against Israeli women on October 7th by Hamas are war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
This isn’t the first time Portman, who has been critical of Israel and its government in the past, has expressed solidarity with the Israeli victims of October 7. On October 13, she shared a video of Israeli children holding up signs asking to free the 30 children currently believed to be held hostage in Gaza. On her Instagram stories, she asked people to donate to Dror Israel’s emergency fund for evacuated families,.
On October 8, a day after the attack, Portman wrote on her Instagram: “My heart is shattered for the people of Israel. Children, women and the elderly have been murdered and abducted from their own homes. I am in horror at these barbaric acts and my heart is pounding with love and prayer for the families of all affected.”