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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Sally Rooney holds off on Hebrew translation of new novel

NEW YORK (AP) — Author Sally Rooney has blocked permission to translate her current book into Hebrew, citing Israel’s “system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians.”

In a statement released Tuesday through his literary representatives, the Wylie Agency, the Irish novelist said he hoped to find a Hebrew-language translator for “Beautiful World, Where Are You”, which came out last month, but won’t do that. An Israeli publisher. His previous novels, the best sellers “Normal People” and “Conversations with Friends”, were released in Hebrew through Modan Publishing House.

Modan, who said he was informed that the author did not want his latest book to be published in Israel, said Rooney’s previous works had sold “very well” in Israel. He declined to give figures. Meanwhile, an Israeli official described the decision as “extremely unfortunate”.

“I understand that not everyone will agree with my decision, but I do not think that under the current circumstances it would be right for me to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly shun apartheid and support the United Nations.” does—the determined rights of the Palestinian people,” said 30-year-old Rooney, one of the world’s most popular and admired young writers and a supporter of Palestinians in the past.

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Rooney’s decision was first reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Rooney’s earlier works are available in Israel in both Hebrew and English. Readers can order “Beautiful World, Where Are You” in English on foreign websites such as Amazon and the Book Depository, but it is not currently available to speakers of Hebrew, the predominant language among Jewish Israelis.

Rooney in his statement cited a pair of reports by Israeli human rights groups B’Salem and New York-based Human Rights Watch – which found Israel guilty of an international crime of apartheid because of discriminatory policies towards Palestinians within its borders. and occupied territories.

That said, these reports confirmed what Palestinian human rights groups have long been saying: Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law.

Rooney praised the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, divisions and sanctions against Israeli businesses, cultural institutions and universities. The BDS says it wants to end Israel’s occupation of lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war and describes it as discrimination against Israel’s Arab minority. It also calls for a “right of return” for the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants whose ancestors fled or were expelled from the creation of Israel in the 1948 war.

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Israeli officials vehemently reject the apartheid allegations, and Israel and other BDS opponents say the BDS campaign encourages anti-Semitism and aims to illegalize or destroy Israel. In 2019, President Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from educational institutions that did not reject BDS, and more than 30 US states have passed anti-BDS legislation.

Rooney is the latest major public figure to embrace the boycott movement, whose supporters include musicians Roger Waters and Brian Eno, filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, and “The Color Purple” writer Alice Walker.

A founding member of the BDS movement, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said in a statement that it “warmly welcomes” Rooney’s decision.

“Rooney joins countless international writers in supporting the institutional cultural boycott of Israel’s complex publishing sector, just as progressive artists once supported the boycott of apartheid South Africa,” the statement said.

“It is extremely unfortunate that Sally Rooney has chosen the path of discrimination and exclusion,” said Nourit Tinari, director of the Department of Cultural and Scientific Affairs at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Read more: Israeli PM condemns Iran, ignores Palestinians in UN speech

“Literature and art are meant to promote dialogue,” she said. “We would expect a writer to want to foster dialogue, listen to other perspectives, and make an impact through discourse.”

Rooney’s decision was supported Tuesday by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon, who wrote in an email to The Associated Press that “as a proud Jewish writer who wants Israel to survive and flourish, and ( And so) support the Palestinian people in their struggle for equality, justice and human rights, I call Rooney Yasher Koch (Hebrew for ‘good job’ or ‘more power to you’).”

Like Rooney, Chabon’s previous works have been translated into Hebrew. Asked what he might do in the future, he replied: “I’ll have to think with my next book about how I want to handle this situation when the time comes, but something like this, if sharply focused. And to be expressed, it doesn’t seem unreasonable.”

Associated Press correspondents Joseph Federman and Isaac Scharf in Jerusalem and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

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