Sally Rooney rejects Israeli publisher, embraces BDS movement

The Irish author Sally Rooney has rejected an Israeli publisher’s request to translate her newest novel into Hebrew, citing her support for the BDS movement.

Israel’s Modan Publishing House put in a bid to translate Rooney’s latest book, Beautiful World, Where Are You, into Hebrew but Rooney declined. Many media outlets have implied that Rooney is boycotting the Hebrew language, but a statement put out by the writer makes it clear that the issue isn’t Hebrew. It’s Israel’s system of apartheid.

“The Hebrew-language translation rights to my new novel are still available, and 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. In the meantime I would like to express once again my solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality”, it reads.

Rooney’s statement references the fact that Israeli human rights group B’Tselem labeled Israel as an apartheid regime earlier this year:

Earlier this year, the international campaign group Human Rights Watch published a report entitled A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution. That report, coming on the heels of a similarly damning report by Israel’s most prominent human rights organization B’Tselem, 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.

Of course, many states other than Israel are guilty of grievous human rights abuses. This was also true of South Africa during the campaign against apartheid there. In this particular case, I am responding to the call from Palestinian civil society, including all major Palestinian trade unions and writers’ unions.

In May, Rooney joined thousands of artists and signed a letter condemning Israel’s attacks on Gaza and denouncing Israel’s apartheid system.

“To frame this as a war between two equal sides is false and misleading,” reads the letter. “Israel is the colonizing power. Palestine is colonized. This is not a conflict: this is apartheid.”

Rooney’s decision has been welcomed by BDS groups and Palestine solidarity organizations.

“Palestinians warmly welcome acclaimed Irish author Sally Rooney’s decision to refuse a deal with Modan Publishing House, an Israeli publisher complicit in Israel’s regime of apartheid, occupation & settler-colonialism that killed more than 240 Palestinians in May this year alone,” tweeted The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott.

Act.IL, an anti-BDS app partially funded by the Israeli government, is instructing its users to accuse Rooney of antisemitism on social media.

So where are the Palestinian voices in mainstream media?

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This week, we’re thrilled to announce our first fulltime Gaza Correspondent, redoubling our commitment to end the media blockade that keeps most Americans from even imagining life behind the blockade.

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