Just three weeks after the writer Sally Rooney (Castlebar, Ireland, 1991) made public her decision not to allow her latest novel, ‘Where are you, beautiful world’, to be translated into Hebrew, all of her books published in English have been removed from Israeli bookstores.
According to ‘The Guardian’, the measure has been adopted by the two main book channels in Israel, Steimatzky y Tzomet Sefarim, which have more than two hundred establishments throughout the country. The work of the Irish writer translated into English, the majority language in Israel, is no longer available on the websites of the aforementioned bookstore chains, and will not be available in their physical stores shortly.
«The Steimatzky chain is a literary setting and a warm and welcoming place for any literary work made with love for the written word. From the moment we found out about the issue, as an immediate step, we removed the books from the web, ”a Steimatzky representative assured
british newspaper. It so happens that Modan, the publisher that translated Rooney’s first two novels into Hebrew, ‘Conversations between Friends’ (2017) and ‘Normal People’ (2018), owns shares in Tzomet Sefarim.
Following a statement issued by the Irish author, Yoseph Haddad, CEO of the social activist organization Together – Vouch for Each Other, launched a campaign encouraging Israeli booksellers to boycott his work, and encouraging Israeli citizens to contact the two bookstore chains to ask them to stop selling their novels. Hence his satisfaction after hearing the news: “I am very happy that this pressure has caused the two largest bookstore chains in Israel to take action.”
On October 12, Rooney announced his refusal to sell the rights to his latest novel, published in Spain by Literatura Random House, to the Israeli publisher that had published his first two books. With such a controversial decision, the Irishwoman aligned herself with the BDS movement (‘Boycott Divestments and Sanctions’), which defends the boycott of Israel. “It is a non-violent, anti-racist grassroots campaign led by Palestinians calling for an economic and cultural boycott against complicit Israeli companies and institutions, in response to the ‘apartheid’ system and other serious human rights violations,” Rooney explained in the release.
“The rights to translate my new novel into Hebrew are still available, and if I can find a way to sell them that meets the institutional boycott guidelines of the BDS movement, I will be pleased and proud to do so. In the meantime, I would like to express once again my solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality, “the author concluded in the press release.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, responsible for the BDS movement, which published a tweet in October in which it declared that it received “warmly” Rooney’s decision, has reiterated its support for the writer, tweeting a statement in the expressing gratitude for “the impressive increase in global support for the cultural boycott of apartheid Israel.” Last May, the Irish author signed a letter calling for “an immediate and unconditional cessation of Israeli violence against the Palestinians,” and demanding that governments “cut commercial, economic and cultural relations” with Israel.