Irish author targeted by Israel supporters ‘would be honored’ to print new book in Hebrew… if it’s boycott-compliant

Bestselling BDS-supporting writer Sally Rooney, who was widely accused of ostracizing Hebrew-speakers with her refusal to let an Israeli publisher print her latest book, said she would love to see a Hebrew translation.

“If I can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so,” she said in a statement, referring to the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Rooney was responding to the wave of outrage that targeted her earlier due to her decision to reject a request by Israeli publisher Modan to translate into Hebrew and release her third novel. The book, ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’, was released last month and is expected to be an international hit, just like the previous works by the Irish writer.

Many critics claimed that Rooney was against the translation of her book into Hebrew rather than against doing business with an Israeli company. Forward columnist Gitit Levy-Paz said her “choice to exclude a group of readers because of their national identity” was against “the very essence of literature,” and called the decision “dangerous” because of “the rise of antisemitism in recent years, especially in Europe.”

BDS, Rooney said, is “a nonviolent grassroots campaign calling for an economic and cultural boycott of complicit Israeli companies and institutions modelled on the economic and cultural boycott that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.”

The Israeli government considers BDS a national threat and claims that people supporting it are denying Israel’s right to exist.

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Sally Rooney. ©REUTERS/Henry Nicholls / A BDS protest outside Germany's Representative Office in Ramallah. ©AFP
Irish literary prodigy Sally Rooney, who supports the ‘BDS’ boycott of Israel, is blasted for ‘refusing to publish book in Hebrew’

In April, Human Rights Watch declared that Israel had crossed a line and now meets the definition of an apartheid state due to its policies towards Palestinians. Prominent Israeli rights group B’Tselem announced the same conclusion in January.

Rooney is a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause. In May, she was one of thousands backing an open letter by Palestinian artists calling for an international boycott of Israel.

“I understand that not everyone will agree with my decision, but 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 and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people,” she said, explaining why she snubbed Modan.

The Israeli publishing house translated and printed Rooney’s two previous novels. It also has a long-standing contract with the Israeli Defense Ministry to publish books and pamphlets for them.

Pro-Palestinian sentiment has many supporters in Ireland, where people see a parallel between their struggle against Israel and the historical resistance of Irish people against Britain. The very term ‘boycott’ stems from the Irish fight for independence, derived from the surname of 19th century English land agent Charles Boycott. He was targeted by a campaign of ostracism and threats after trying to evict Irish tenants.

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