The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel salutes Irish writer Sally Rooney for supporting the Palestinian and global picket line against apartheid and colonialism. Rooney declined to sell the Hebrew-language translation rights to her latest novel, Beautiful People, Where Are You?, to an Israeli publisher. She did so explicitly in support and recognition of the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, noting specifically the call from Palestinian artists and writers’ unions.
This is not the first time Rooney has taken a clear stand in support of Palestinian rights. She joined with thousands of other artists, writers and cultural workers in the Against Apartheid statement, which urged “our peers in the arts, to exercise their agency within their institutions and localities to support the Palestinian struggle for decolonization to the best of their ability. Israeli apartheid is sustained by international complicity, it is our collective responsibility to redress this harm.”
As noted by Daniel Finn in Jacobin, “Rooney previously gave her support to the Pakistani-British novelist Kamila Shamsie when she rejected an offer to have her work published in Israel. The 2019 open letter in support of Shamsie, signed by Rooney and other writers including Arundhati Roy and J. M. Coetzee, came after the German city of Dortmund had stripped her of a literary prize because she endorsed the BDS campaign.” While Rooney noted she would be happy to sell the Hebrew-language rights to a BDS-compliant publisher, she rejected the Israeli publishing house Modan, which is not only a complicit institution in occupation and apartheid generally, but even publishes books in collaboration with Israel’s Ministry of “Defense.”
We urge all novelists and writers to follow in Rooney’s and Shamsie’s footsteps in rejecting publishing deals with Israeli publishing houses and firms, as so many around the world have already done. A growing number of people around the world are expressing their support for the Palestinian people by refusing complicity and cooperation with Israeli universities, publishers and other institutions directly involved in the colonization of Palestine for the past 73 years.
Further, we express our solidarity with Rooney against attempts by supporters of Zionist apartheid and colonialism in Palestine to misrepresent her position of solidarity with the Palestinian people and vilify her for it. It is clear that her position reflects that of the peoples of the world who strive for justice and liberation for the land and people of Palestine.
Photo: Faber/Johnny Davies