After his 2015 Edward W. Said London lecture at the Southbank Centre, Daniel Barenboim was asked whether he supported the BDS campaign to boycott and isolate the state of Israel. His reply, which you can watch on video (click here at 19:00), begins with outright support for a boycott, only to equivocate as he develops his position.
Barenboim said: ‘I think the boycott movement BDS is absolutely correct, its perfectly right and necessary with one limitation, one criticism – that it refuses any contact with anything that has to do with Israel. In other words, there is not enough differentiation. I think there are enough people in Israel who think very different from the government. Artists and other people. Writers, certainly. Musicians, certainly. And by making a blind boycott, you deprive yourself of the possibility of making contact with people who disagree with you – a member of the boycott – as much as, equally about the policies of the government.
‘And let us not forget one thing: The Israelis and the Palestinians are blessed or cursed to live either together or side by side, but certainly not back-to-back. And therefore, a boycott that is completely generalised and has no feeling for nuances takes away the possibility of ever imagining a future that will be different from what it is now. It only encourages policies, as we have read in recent days from the foreign minister f Israel, where it is clear that the present government in Israel is not interested in a two-state solution, it is not interested in a one-state solution. It is interested in an exclusively Jewish solution for all the territories, and that is unacceptable.’
In response to a clarifying question, he added: ‘It is very short-term and not positive for any future for the Palestinians to boycott anything that has anything to do with Israel. Anything to do with government policies, yes.’