British actress Helen Mirren came out against the cultural boycott of Israel on October 28 after being honored at the 29th Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles, California.
When talking to the press before the ceremony, Mirren said that the campaign to boycott Israel through cutting off cultural ties was a “really bad idea.”
“The people who are the most inspiring in Israel tend to be from the cultural community. The writers, the directors, the poets, the musicians, they are truly extraordinary people doing amazing work, peace giving work, working towards peace all the time,” she said. “To cut them off is the craziest idea, I don’t agree with it at all.”
Mirren said that she agreed with the prominent British figures who signed an open letter that was published in The Guardian last week that supported a cultural engagement with Israel instead of a cultural boycott as a way to encourage peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mirren received the Career Achievement Award at the annual festival on October 28 and used the opportunity to discuss her “relationship with that beautiful country Israel.”
Mirren started her acceptance speech with memories of her first visit to Israel in 1967, “just six months after the Six Day War,” and spoke of how she worked on Kibbutz Ha’on with her Jewish boyfriend.
“After we worked there on the kibbutz we hitchhiked around Israel and I actually slept on the beach in Eilat, so that was my first experience of Israel and I was very taken by the country and especially by the people at that time,” she recalled.
She described the trip as “absolutely a part of the building blocks that have made me the actress I am and doing the kind of work that I do.”
“I love Israel, I think it is a great, great country,” she finished emotionally. “I think that through all the difficulties, and all the pain that Israel has suffered in the past and will in the future, the great thing that Israel has is Israelis, and they will guide it through.”
In the 2010 film “The Debt,” Mirren played a retired Mossad agent, and reportedly immersed herself in studies of Hebrew, Jewish history, and writings on the Holocaust in preparation for the role. Additionally, some of the film’s scenes were filmed in Israel.
In the 2015 movie “Woman in Gold,” Mirren plays Maria Altmann, who fought the Austrian government for years in order to secure the return of five Gustav Klimt paintings stolen from her Jewish family during World War II.