(JTA) – Seventy renowned writers and publishers, including Rachel Kushner, Francisco Goldman and Eileen Myles, have signed a letter supporting Irish novelist Sally Rooney in her refusal to have her third novel translated into Hebrew by an Israeli publisher. The letter calls Rooney’s boycott of Israeli publishers “an exemplary response to the growing injustices inflicted on the Palestinians.”
Rooney published his latest novel, Beautiful people, where are you, in September, but did not accept an offer to sell the Hebrew translation rights to Modan, the Israeli publisher responsible for releasing his first two novels in Israel. She said she refused to do any other business with Modan out of support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, a Palestinian initiative against the Israeli regime.
In response, Israel’s top booksellers decided to remove Rooney’s early novels from their shelves. The two books, which were popular in Israel, will no longer be available at the 200 outlets of the Steimatzky and Tzomet Sefarim bookstore chains or on the chains’ websites.
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 Britain. “Like her, we will continue to respond to the Palestinian call for effective solidarity, just as millions of people have 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. “
In defending Rooney, the letter cited an April Human Rights Watch report that found Israel guilty of instituting an “apartheid” regime.
Main photo: Sally Rooney speaks onstage at a conference in Pasadena, Calif. On January 17, 2020 (Erik Voake / Getty Images for Hulu)