Rooney turns down Israeli publisher's bid over Palestine stance

Rooney turns down Israeli publisher's bid over Palestine stance

Sally Rooney has turned down a bid from an Israeli publisher to release a Hebrew version of her most recent novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, due to her stance on the conflict in Palestine.

The Irish author turned down Modan, the Israeli publisher that released copies of her other novels, Normal People and Conversations with Friends, which had been translated by Katyah Benovits.

In a statement, Rooney thanked staff involved in the publication of her work in Israel, acknowledging it would "be an honour" to also have her latest work available in Hebrew. However, she said she had decided not to sell rights to an Israeli-based publishing house "for the moment".

The writer added that, were she able to find a way to sell Hebrew translation rights in a way that accorded with the Boycott, Divestments & Sanctions (BDS) movement—a Palestinian-led grassroots campaign promoting the boycott of Israeli companies "complicit in apartheid"—she would be "pleased and proud to do so".

Rooney referred to the internal campaign group Human Rights Watch, which published a report titled A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution. She said: "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."

She added: "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. In the meantime I would like to express once again my solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality." 

Earlier this year, the author joined other writters including Nan Goldin and Naomi Klein in signing an open letter which demanded the "immediate and unconditional cessation of Israeli violence against Palestinians”.

Beautiful World Where Are You sold 46,065 copies in its first week on sale, becoming the fastest-selling Adult Fiction title since sales figures returned to BookScan in mid-March, post-lockdown, and Rooney's second title to go to the overall top spot.