Pete Seeger clarifies position on boycotting Israel

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) – Folk music icon Pete Seeger, quoted earlier this week as saying that he supports a boycott of Israel, told JTA that his position on Israel is constantly evolving.

Earlier this week, the pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement group Adalah-NY reported that Seeger met recently with representatives from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and told them that he “supports” the anti-Israel BDS movement.

Seeger told JTA by phone Wednesday that he “probably said” that, but added that he is still learning a lot about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his “opinions waver with each piece of information” he receives.

The 92-year-old musician also said that contrary to the Adalah-NY report, he does not regret taking part in last November’s online peace rally “With Earth and Each Other,” which was mounted in support of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in southern Israel.

The Arava Institute, which brings together an international student body to explore solutions to cross-border ecological problems, particularly those affecting Israel and her Arab neighbors, is “very important,” Seeger said. He added that similar initiatives aimed at reducing tensions between neighbors “should exist all over the world."

One month before the online event, Seeger told JTA that he was resisting calls from the BDS movement to call off his participation. He cited the need for dialogue to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I understand why someone would want to boycott a place financially, but I don’t understand why you would boycott dialogue,” Seeger said at the time. “The world will not be here in 50 years unless we learn how to communicate with each other nonviolently.”

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