JERUSALEM — Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren said Wednesday she was a “believer” in Israel and rejected efforts to boycott it.

Mirren showered Israeli artists with praise and said she opposed both the efforts by pro-Palestinian groups to boycott them and the decision of some international artists to shun Israel.

“I think that art is an incredibly important way of communication,” she said at a media event in Jerusalem. “The artists of the country are the people you need to communicate with and make a relationship with and learn from and build upon. So I absolutely don’t believe in the boycott, and here I am.”

Mirren is in Israel to host the Genesis Prize, an award known as “the Jewish Nobel.” The $1 million prize is being awarded to Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman for his accomplishments as a musician, teacher and advocate for the disabled.

Mirren, who is not Jewish, has visited Israel several times, and has been a vocal critic of pro-Palestinian activists who have called for a cultural boycott of Israel. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, has enlisted the support of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and has persuaded Elvis Costello, Lauren Hill and other performers to call off concerts in Israel.

Mirren, 70, played the role of a former Mossad agent in “The Debt,” a remake of an Israeli film of the same name. And in “Woman in Gold,” she played an elderly Jewish refugee who fought the Austrian government for a decade to reclaim an iconic Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis.

She said her strong connection to Israel dates back to 1967, when she volunteered on a kibbutz, or collective farm, with her Jewish boyfriend at the time. She fondly recalled picking grapes and doing kitchen duty.

“I am a believer in Israel … I think this is an extraordinary country filled with very, very extraordinary people,” she said.

– From news service reports