This was despite her stressing that “The Hebrew-language translation rights to my new novel are still available, and if I can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement's institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so”. But the heavy artillery of the anti-BDS brigade was already being summoned.
That may have had something to do with her adding “In the meantime I would like to express once again my solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality”, and also “many states other than Israel are guilty of grievous human rights abuses...in this case I am responding to the call from Palestinian civil society, including all major Palestinian trade unions and writers’ unions”.
So who would care to go off the end of the pier in no style at all? Ben Judah certainly would. “Depressing and unpleasant that Sally Rooney won’t allow her new novel to be translated into Hebrew … Hebrew is an integral and ancient part of Jewish culture worldwide. It’s taught where ever there are Jews … Boycotting Hebrew - not the Israeli state, army or occupation - is boycotting Jews”. So it’s, you know, hint hint.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews also weighed in. “Sally Rooney’s statement that she is happy to have her book published in Hebrew as long as it complies with the guidelines of the [BDS movement] is a masterclass in disingenuity. The leaders of BDS have made it clear that the intended end result of their campaign is the destruction of Israel”. That’s not how many observers read BDS’ objectives. Who may not be won over by that bullying.
It’s true that Ben Judah later “clarified” his stance after seeing Ms Rooney’s statement, adding “Well if she could have said that yesterday it would have saved us all a lot of trouble”. But thus far, he’s not acted on James Foster’s prompting him “So you'll be posting a retraction & deleting your tweets, right?” Other Jewish voices backed Ms Rooney.
Andrew Feinstein mused “Congratulations to Sally Rooney on her principled position on Palestinian rights. BDS was crucial to ending apartheid in South Africa and it will be again in Israel & the [Occupied Palestinian Territories]". Shaun Lawson added “When the world boycotted apartheid South Africa, I can't remember anyone saying ‘but what about X? Or Y? Or Z? Why are you picking on South Africa?’ Why was that? Could it be because the principle spoke for itself? Solidarity with Sally Rooney. Brickbats to apartheid apologists”.
And Dana Naomy Mills reminded the world “As an anti occupation israeli activist let me tell you if people would be as upset about daily horrors of the occupation as they are about boycotts we wouldn’t need boycotts”. The continuing nudge-nudgery - suggesting that support for the Palestinian people equals anti-Semitism, while not actually saying so, along with the heavy-handed denunciation of those such as Ms Rooney, is not making it.
Instead, the bullying and browbeating is alienating an increasing number of people who might otherwise have been supportive of the state of Israel. Not a good look.
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