Sally Rooney’s boycott of Israel publishers wins 70 writers’ backing

Seventy notable writers and editors, including Rachel Kushner, Francisco Goldman, and Eileen Myles, signed a letter supporting Irish novelist Sally Rooney in her refusal to have an Israeli publisher translate her third novel into Hebrew.

The letter calls Rooney’s boycott of Israeli publishers “an exemplary response to the growing injustices inflicted on the Palestinians.”

Rooney published his most recent novel, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” in September, but did not accept an offer to sell the rights to the Hebrew translation to Modan, the Israeli publisher responsible for publishing his first two novels in Israel. He said he was refusing to do more business with Modan in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian initiative against the Israeli government.

In response, Israel’s largest bookstores decided to remove Rooney’s earlier novels from their shelves. The two books, which were popular in Israel, will no longer be available in the 200 retail stores of the Steimatzky and Tzomet Sefarim bookstore chains or on the chains’ websites.

Author Sally Rooney poses for a photo before the announcement of the winner of the 2018 Costa Book Awards in London, Great Britain, on January 29, 2019 (credit: HENRY NICHOLLS / REUTERS)

On November 22, a pro-Palestinian group called Artists for Palestine UK announced that it had organized a letter of support for Rooney with a list of signatories from the United States and Great Britain.

“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,” the letter said. “We will continue to support the non-violent Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

Defending Rooney, the letter said Modan markets texts published by the Israel Defense Ministry and cited an April Human Rights Watch report that Israel is guilty of instituting an “apartheid” regime.

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