Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening presented actor Michael Douglas with the Genesis Prize, in a special ceremony at the Jerusalem Theater.
The Genesis Prize is awarded annually by the Genesis Prize Foundation, in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel, to individuals who have accomplished major life achievements, and are advocates for the Jewish community and Israel. Douglas, said the Foundation, fits both criteria.
Speaking at the ceremony, Netanyahu said, "Israel is a beacon of technology and innovation. It is a beacon of liberty and freedom and life in a region entirely submerged in darkness and tyranny.”
“Democracies are tested under fire. And we have been tested since day one. However, we maintain our values,” he continued. “We built a vibrant democracy, a democracy where Jews and non-Jews are equal under the law, in the one and only Jewish state. Jews can come here and live as free people and they can come here from all over the world. All Jews can feel at home here. And as Prime Minister of Israel, I am committed to preserving the unity of the Jewish people and will continue to oppose any attempt to divide the Jewish people and to delegitimize one community or another. Everyone will be welcome here – Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. All of them.”
“The great irony is of course that Israel, that free, vibrant and incredibly dynamic democracy, is the most maligned on earth,” the Prime Minister said. “Most of the resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council deal with Israel, more than North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Syria. Such a flux of unjust criticism, every day and every hour, eventually takes the form of a self-evident truth. That is the nature of defamation. And under this attack, it is very easy to bow down. But I want to tell you that the days in which the Jewish people bowed down their heads are gone. Since the establishment of the Jewish state, we resist. It’s not that the attacks on Jews stopped with the creation of the State of Israel, but that we have the ability to resist. This is something new, it's something our people did not have for centuries.”
Douglas has said he plans to direct his prize money toward promoting activities designed to raise awareness of inclusiveness and diversity in Judaism.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder met Douglas in Jerusalem earlier this week, and expressed his admiration for Douglas's efforts against anti-Semitism and BDS, as well as his fight against the delegitimization attempts against Israel.