Author Sally Rooney defends her boycott Israeli publishers

'Normal People' author Sally Rooney defends decision to boycott Israeli publishers
3 min read
12 October, 2021
Sally Rooney has issued a statement explaining her decision to reject an offer to have her most recent novel translated into Hebrew by an Israeli company, claiming that it would violate the BDS movement's institutional boycott guidelines.
Sally Rooney said she would welcome a Hebrew translation if it complied with BDS [Getty]

Sally Rooney has defended her decision to reject the translation of her latest book into Hebrew by an Israeli publisher, citing the ongoing violations of Palestinian rights by Israeli forces

The news that the Irish author's latest publication, Beautiful World, Where Are You, had turned down the translation offer was first revealed in an interview which was published by Haaretz

Rooney confirmed the news in a statement on Tuesday, which was also welcomed by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) which is part of the Boycott, Divestments & Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

"Firstly, I was very proud to have my previous two novels translated into Hebrew by Katyah Benovits. I would like to thank everyone involved in the publication of those books for supporting my work," the statement read. 

"Likewise, it would be an honour for me to have my latest novel translated into Hebrew and available to Hebrew-language readers. But for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house."

"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 organisation 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," she continued. 

Rooney said she would welcome a Hebrew translation if it is "compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines".

The announcement was welcomed by PACBI in a statement. 

"Rooney joins countless international authors in supporting the institutional cultural boycott of Israel's complicit publishing sector, just as progressive artists once supported the boycott of apartheid South Africa," the statement read.


"We note with pride the historic solidarity expressed by Irish cultural figures with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. More than 1,300 artists have now signed Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign's pledge to uphold the cultural boycott of apartheid Israel," it continued. 

Ireland has a long history of popular support for the Palestinian cause, with many Irish citizens seeing similarities between the Palestinian fight against occupation and their own previous struggle against British rule. 

Earlier this year, Ireland became the first EU country to accuse Israel of "de facto annexation" of Palestinian lands.

Rooney’s actions were also applauded online with Twitter users praising the author’s decision. 

"Sally Rooney out here putting her money where her mouth is, you love to see it," one Twitter user wrote.

"I refuse to engage in a cycle of faux-outrage and bad faith accusations of antisemitism every single time an individual or company engages in BDS. You know what you are doing  - everyone does. It's obvious and small. No thank you," another Twitter user commented