Best-selling Irish author Sally Rooney is standing with Palestinians by respecting their call to boycott Israel. She is refusing to allow an Israeli company buy the Hebrew translation and publication rights for her latest novel.
The acclaimed writer said it was in support of calls to boycott Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians. She said it would “be an honour” to have ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’ translated into Hebrew by a company which shared her political position.
She said that while she was “very proud” that her two previous novels - Conversations With Friends (2017) and Normal People (2018) - had been translated into Hebrew, “for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house”.
Citing a recent report by Human Rights Watch which accused Israel of practising apartheid, Ms Rooney said her decision was in support of the pro-Palestinian ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) movement, which calls for a complete boycott of Israel.
The reports “confirmed what Palestinian human rights groups have long been saying: Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law,” Ms Rooney said.
The author said she was answering the call from Palestinian civil society to impose an economic and cultural boycott of “complicit Israeli companies,” referring to BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – as part of an anti-racist and nonviolent movement against the Israeli government’s actions.
“I simply do not feel it would be right for me under the present circumstances to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid,” Ms Rooney added.
Ms Rooney confirmed that Hebrew-language translation rights to her new novel are still available if she “can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines.”
She is one of hundreds of artists and cultural figures who signed “A Letter Against Apartheid” after Israel’s 11-day assault on Gaza in May, during which 260 Palestinians were killed.
Pro-Israeli media misconstrued her act of solidarity as a blanket prohibition on translating her work into Hebrew, rather than respect for the Palestinian call for support.
He stance was met with praise on social media. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) hailed her for joining “countless international authors in supporting the institutional cultural boycott of Israel’s complicit publishing sector.”
“Rooney’s decision is part of a long-standing tradition of solidarity between Irish and Palestinian people,” wrote the Electronic Intifida.
In her 2018 novel Normal People, characters discuss Palestinian liberation and take part in a protest against Israel’s bombing campaign on Gaza in 2014. Normal People was crowned Book of the Year at 2019’s British Book Awards.