Sally Rooney's BDS support draws ire of Israeli foreign ministry

Sally Rooney's BDS support draws ire of Israeli foreign ministry
A spokesperson for the Israeli foreign ministry told British media that Irish author Sally Rooney's decision to refuse an Israeli publishing house translation rights 'is an unfortunate position that promotes narrow-mindedness and impedes peace'.
3 min read
13 October, 2021
Sally Rooney's decision was supported by many [Getty]

Israel’s foreign ministry has lashed out at Irish author Sally Rooney for refusing 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.

“It would be an honour for me to have my latest novel translated into Hebrew and available to Hebrew-language readers. But for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house", she said in a statement that was welcomed by the Boycott Sanctions Divestment (BDS) movement.

Speaking to British newspaper The Telegraph, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson deplored Rooney's actions and accused her of being "narrow-minded".

“This is an unfortunate position that promotes narrow-mindedness and impedes peace, dialogue, or any meaningful change. Literature is a tool to promote dialogue and conversation,” the spokesperson said.

“There is something inherently flawed with an intellectual who refuses to engage in conversation, and instead supports the silencing of opinion.”

Nurit Tinari, director of the foreign ministry’s culture division, claimed the nonviolent BDS movement is “an illegitimate campaign that has been tainted with antisemitism since the day it was founded through to today."

“Literature and art are meant to foster dialogue. We would expect an author to want to foster dialogue, hear other viewpoints, and influence through discourse."

“If Ms Rooney had only visited Israel and studied the situation in-depth, I believe that she would not have made such a discriminatory decision that excludes an entire group of people based on its place of residence and language,” he added.

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The non-violent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking to put an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel claims the movement is a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

But BDS, which advocates peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.

The peaceful movement operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.