National treasure Joanna Lumley has condemned cultural boycotts of Israel as “appalling”.
The celebrated actress and campaigner spoke to the Jewish News after addressing charity Tikva’s annual dinner in central London.
“I hate barriers, I hate walls, I hate boycotts,” she said when asked about cultural boycotts. “I think it’s appalling. I would never join in such a boycott.” Music stars from around the world are frequently targeted by BDS campaigners, urging them to cancel planned concerts in the country.
Lumley, who will receive the Bafta fellowship this weekend, said one of her “greatest heroes in life” is Daniel Barenboim, the Israeli conductor who established with Edward Said the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra to bring together young Israeli, Palestinian and Arab musicians.
The Absolutely Fabulous actress earlier delighted more than 200 guests at the event, regaling tales of her 40-year career from starting as a model to becoming a Bong Girl and starring in the hit sitcom opposite Jennifer Saunders. She also successfully led a campaign for Gurkha veterans who served in the British Army to have the right to settle in the UK.
The event raised £1.1 million was raised for the charity’s children’s homes in Odessa, Ukraine, with the funds going towards continuing the search for at-risk Jewish children in the region. Tikva also operates schools and a university in the area.
“Part of the reason I wanted to be here was the extraordinariness of the people I’m hearing about tonight, the person who started it all and you all being here to support it,” she said. “I think the point of life is actually to help other people and to make life better. What you are doing here is something that I admire you and adore you for.” What started with one man’s vision to help a handful of children now helps hundreds, she said. “These children have had their lives completely given back to them.”
The event saw a powerful animated film about one young girl’s true-life story of rescue and was addressed by Rachel Grigoriva, who studied english language and world literature at Tikva’s accredited university. “You have given me my education, my Judaism, my community and my future.”