Sally Rooney, the bestselling Irish author, has issued a statement clarifying her decision not to sell the Hebrew translation rights of 'Beautiful World, Where Are You?' to Modan Publishing House, which is based in Israel.
Rooney's agent reportedly told the Israeli newspaper Haartez last month that Rooney "supports the cultural boycott movement on Israel" and, as such, would not grant Modan Publishing House the Hebrew translation rights to 'Beautiful World, Where are You?' which was published in September.
Rooney's previous two novels, 'Normal People' and 'Conversations with Friends,' were both translated into Hebrew through Modan Publishing House, according to The Independent.
Rooney has since been met with criticism for allegedly refusing “Beautiful World, Where Are You?” to be translated into Hebrew. However, the Irish author, 30, has now issued a statement explaining that she would be “proud” to have the novel translated into Hebrew, but that she refuses to grant the Israeli publishing house the translation rights in line with her support of the pro-Palestinian movement Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS).
In a statement circulated on October 12, Rooney said: “Firstly, I was very proud to have my two previous novels translated into Hebrew by Katyah Benovits. I would like to thank everyone involved in the publication of those books for supporting my work.
“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 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.
“The Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a Palestinian-led, anti-racist and nonviolent grassroots campaign calling for an economic and cultural boycott of complicit Israeli companies and institutions in response to the apartheid system and other grave human rights violations. It is modelled on the economic and cultural boycott that helped end apartheid in South Africa.
“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.
“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.
“The Hebrew-language translation rights to my new novel are still available, and if I can find a way to sell these rights that are 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. Thank you.”
Both the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) welcomed Rooney’s actions.
PACBI said that "there should be no business-as-usual with an apartheid state and institutions complicit in it:"
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. pic.twitter.com/aFm0QU5dqB— PACBI (@PACBI) October 12, 2021
IPSC said "well done" to Rooney:
Well done to Sally Rooney for her principled decision not to publish her latest novel with an Israeli publisher complicit in apartheid, to respect the BDS call in solidarity with the Palestinian people. #BDS is UNSTOPPABLE! https://t.co/RTMucIKAfy— IPSC (@ipsc48) October 12, 2021