(November 29, 2021 / JNS) Seventy high-profile writers, poets and playwrights from several continents signed an open letter expressing support for best-selling Irish novelist Sally Rooney, who refuses to sell translation rights of her new book to an Israeli publisher in solidarity with the BDS movement.
Rooney turned down an offer from the Israeli publisher Modan for the Hebrew translation rights of her latest novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You. Modan has published her previous two books in Hebrew, but the author said last month she did not feel right partnering with an Israeli company “that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the U.N.-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.”
In an open letter published on Nov. 22 by Artists for Palestine UK, 70 writers said they back Rooney’s decision.
“Palestinian artists have asked their international colleagues to end complicity in Israel’s violations of their human rights, and this for many of us is a clear ethical obligation,” the open letter stated. “Sally Rooney’s refusal to sign a contract with a mainstream Israeli publisher, which markets the work of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, is therefore an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians.”
They added: “Like her, we will continue to respond to the Palestinian call for effective solidarity, just as millions supported the campaign against apartheid in South Africa. We will continue to support the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, a founding member of the BDS movement, said on Nov. 22 that it “salute[s]” the authors who support Rooney’s “decision to stand in firm solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality by turning down a contract with a publisher that is complicit in Israel’s apartheid regime.”
StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein told JNS that support from BDS groups isn’t surprising.
“The fact that Sally Rooney is getting support for her double standard against Israel and her misrepresentations should not impress anyone,” said Rothstein. “We remain concerned that she and those who support her decision are discriminating against Israel, the one Jewish country in the world, the ancestral home of the Jewish people.”
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