LONDON: Dozens of authors have come out in support of the decision by Irish writer Sally Rooney to reject the translation of her new book into Hebrew by some of Israel’s largest publishers.
Authors including Ahmed Masoud, Kamila Shamsie, Monica Ali and China Miéville described Rooney’s decision as an “exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians.”
Around 70 authors and publishers in total signed the open letter organized by Artists for Palestine UK, a cultural network “standing together for Palestinian rights.”
The letter read: “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.
“Sally Rooney’s refusal to sign a contract with a mainstream Israeli publisher — which markets the work of the Israeli Ministry of Defence — is therefore an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians.”
The authors’ letter highlighted Human Rights Watch’s classification of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories as “apartheid,” and pointed out that this racial injustice must be opposed just as it was in South Africa.
In October, Rooney rejected a bid by Israeli publisher Modan — which translated her last two books — to translate her new book “Beautiful World, Where Are You” into Hebrew. A number of Israeli bookstores pulled her work from their sales in response to her position.
She did not reject the translation of her book into Hebrew outright, but instead said she would prefer to work with a publishing house aligned with her own politics.
The bestselling author — whose work “Normal People” was adapted into a BBC TV series — said in October that she supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which works to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”
She said she does not feel it would be right to collaborate with an Israeli company “that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, a founding member of BDS, praised the authors supporting Rooney in her “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.”