Author Sally Rooney bans new novel from being translated to Hebrew in effort to boycott Israel

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In media news today, ABC News says Krysten Sinema has ‘taken a hard turn to the right,’ Ben & Jerry’s co-founders are stumped on why they refuse to sell ice cream in Israel but do business in red states, and Samantha Bee admits she didn’t want to attack Andrew Cuomo last year

Hebrew readers will no longer be able to get a copy of Sally Rooney’s latest novel “Beautiful World, Where Are You.”

On Tuesday, Israeli paper Haaretz reported that the Irish novelist turned down an offer from the Israeli publisher Modan to translate her books to Hebrew. Modan translated her previous books. The newspaper wrote that Rooney’s agent cited her support for the cultural boycott of Israel, also known as the Boycott, Disinvestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as the reason for this rejection.

“When Modan approached Rooney’s agent in an attempt to sign another translation deal, the agent announced that Rooney supports the cultural boycott movement on Israel and therefore does not approve translation into Hebrew,” Haaretz reported.


Rooney’s agent later confirmed that the author did reject publication by Modan but declined to answer whether it was a boycott.

In a later statement, however, Rooney cited the BDS movement as her reason. 

“The Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a Palestinian-led, anti-racist and nonviolent grassroots campaign calling for an economic and cultural boycott of complicit Israeli companies and institutions in response to the apartheid system and other grave human rights violations,” Rooney wrote.

Israelis participate in a rally calling for the release of Israeli soldiers and civilians being held by Hamas in Gaza, In front of the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

She continued, “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.”

Rooney maintained that if she can find a way to sell a translation of her novel that is compliant with the BDS movement, she will still publish her book in Hebrew.

Rooney has authored three novels, “Conversations with Friends,” “Normal People,” and her latest “Beautiful World, Where Are You.” Her novel “Normal People” was adapted into a television series by Hulu. 

Rooney’s decision faced backlash from critics and fellow authors.

The BDS movement has gained support in recent years despite its links to anti-Semitism. In July, the popular ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s announced a boycott on selling products in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” In response, the State Department released a statement that rejected the BDS movement. 

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