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October 12, 2021 2:01 pm

Irish Author Sally Rooney Refuses to Sell Hebrew Rights of New Book to Israeli Publisher in Support of BDS Movement

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Author Sally Rooney in an interview with “PBS NewsHour.” Photo: Screenshot.

Irish author Sally Rooney said she will not sell the translation rights of her new novel to an Israeli publisher and will only allow her book to be translated to Hebrew through a publishing house that complies with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement’s “institutional boycott guidelines” against Israel.

Rooney’s highly-anticipated third novel, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” was published in September. Rights to publish the book in Hebrew are still up for sale after the author, 30, turned down an offer last month from Modan, the Israeli publisher that translated her two previous novels into Hebrew.

Rooney said in a statement on Tuesday that although she is “very proud” her first two novels — 2017’s “Conversations With Friends” and 2018’s “Normal People” — were adapted into Hebrew, “for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house.” She said her decision is in support of the BDS movement, and cited reports by the organizations Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, which have accused Israel of perpetrating apartheid against Palestinians.

The writer, who has won several book awards in the United Kingdom, explained that she does not feel right partnering with an Israeli company “that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.”

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Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, sharply criticized reports of Rooney’s decision, telling The Algemeiner, “In the 20th Century, it was Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and Maoist China whose gatekeepers decided what ideas could be read; in the 21st century, Ireland’s Sally Rooney follows the orthodoxy of antisemitic BDS by boycotting Hebrew, the official language of Jewish people. Rooney debases herself and greases the wheels of fascism into darkness.”

Israel’s Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai responded to the news on Twitter, writing, “The cultural boycott of Israel, antisemitism in a new guise, is a certificate of poor conduct for her and others who behave like her.”

In May, Rooney signed an open letter that called for “an immediate and unconditional cessation of Israeli violence against Palestinians,” and asked governments to “apply sanctions … cut trade, economic and cultural relations” with Israel.

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” sold more than 40,000 copies in its first five days after being published, according to The Guardian. “Normal People” has been adapted for television and the same is planned for “Conversations with Friends,” with filming set to begin in April 2022.

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