Helen Mirren Explains Why She Ignores BDS Pressure, Praises Israel

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Helen Mirren as Golda Meir in “Golda.” Photo: Jasper Wolf.

British actress Dame Helen Mirren has faced pressure from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel throughout her career but prefers instead to support Israeli artists and the Jewish state as a whole, the famed Academy Award winner explained in a new interview.

“I’ve met great artists in Israel. To abandon those artists didn’t seem the right thing to me,” Mirren, 78, told the Israeli media outlet N12. “On the contrary, work with the artists of Israel. It’s the artistic community that I believe will carry Israel forward.”

The actress added that she’s been told in the past not to go to Israel or participate in Israeli projects but chooses to ignore those requests because she’s “met such extraordinary people” in the country.

“I know that there is a foundation of deep intelligence, thoughtfulness, commitment [and] poetry even in Israel that is very, very special,” she explained.

The BDS movement, which seeks to isolate the Jewish state from the international community as a step toward its eventual elimination, tries to pressure individuals, companies, and other entities not to travel to or associate with Israel.

Mirren plays former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in the recently released film Golda from Israeli director Guy Nattiv. The movie tells the true story of Meir’s leadership during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Mirren came to Israel for the first time after the war and worked as a volunteer at Kibbutz Ha’on by the Sea of Galilee. She told N12 about being in Israel during that time: “The extraordinary magical energy of a country just beginning to put its roots in the ground — it was an amazing time to be here.”

The actress has played a few Jewish roles in the past, including in the 2010 film The Debut. Five years later in the movie Woman in Gold, she starred as a real elderly Jewish refugee living in California named Maria Altmann, who fought the government of Austria to reclaim a painting of her aunt by famed Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.

Mirren most recently starred in the 2023 film White Bird as a Jewish woman who survived Nazi-occupied France as a youngster with the help of a non-Jewish boy from her school and his family who sheltered her.

“It is something that I do feel strongly about,” Mirren said when asked about the number of Jewish characters she has played.

The actress added: “I believe in the existence of Israel, and I believe Israel has to go forward into the future for the rest of eternity. And I believe in Israel because of the Holocaust.”

Helen Mirren Explains Why She Ignores BDS Pressure, Praises Israel

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