'Normal People' author Sally Rooney rejects Israeli publishing deal, cites BDS

'Normal People' author Sally Rooney rejects Israeli publishing deal, cites BDS
3 min read
12 October, 2021
Irish author Sally Rooney has turned down an offer to have her new book, 'Beautiful World, Where Are You', translated into Hebrew with a major Israeli publisher, citing her support for the BDS movement.
Sally Rooney achieved widespread acclaim following the release of her book 'Normal People' [Getty]

Irish author Sally Rooney has refused to allow her most recent book to be translated into Hebrew by an Israeli publishing house.

Rooney turned down an offer from Israeli publisher Modan to translate her new novel Beautiful World, Where Are You, which was released in September to widespread acclaim, into Hebrew. 

Although her first two books, Conversations with Friends and Normal People, were both translated into Hebrew, Rooney's agent turned down an offer by Modan to have her third novel published in Israel's official language, citing her support of the pro-Palestine Boycott Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement, according to Haaretz.

Rooney first hinted that she would refuse to have her book published in Hebrew in an interview with The New York Times.

She has previously spoken out against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza. 

In May, the author was one of a number of signatories who signed an open letter calling for an end to the Israeli occupation.

"In Palestine and across the world, vast numbers are taking to the streets, organising on social media, defending their homes, protecting each other, and demanding an end to ethnic cleansing, apartheid, discrimination and dispossession," the letter read.

In her novel Normal People, the two central characters both attend a protest against Israel's 2014 assault on Gaza.

The Irish author’s decision was not universally welcomed however.

"The very essence of literature, its power to bring a sense of coherence and order to the world, is negated by Rooney’s choice to exclude a group of readers because of their national identity," Gitit Levy-Paz, a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, wrote in an op-ed published by Forward

However on Twitter, many social media users defended Rooney.

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"Sally Rooney out here putting her money where her mouth is, you love to see it," one Twitter user wrote

"I refuse to engage in a cycle of faux-outrage and bad faith accusations of antisemitism every single time an individual or company engages in BDS. You know what you are doing  - everyone does. It's obvious and small. No thank you," another Twitter user commented

The Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to highlight abuses committed by Israel against Palestinians and upholds "the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity", according to their website.

Ireland has a long history of popular support for Palestine, with many Irish citizens seeing similarities between the Palestinian fight against occupation and their own previous struggle against British rule. 

Earlier this year, Ireland became the first EU country to accuse Israel of "de facto annexation" of Palestinian lands.