Sally Rooney and the BDS movement


Sir, – Hebrew is widely spoken in only one small country, so it is basically just the non-English speaking Israeli public (which may, of course, include some Israeli Arabs) who will miss out. Sally Rooney will probably gain more by the publicity on this issue.

A wider question here is the issue of boycotting literary, theatrical, musical, artistic and other cultural content against a state.

Culture should always transcend politics and creativity should be free to cross borders. This is how peoples learn to understand each other, to find common ground and shared hopes, to be an influence for change.

If Sally Rooney sees herself as a writer worth reading, one would think she would be glad to share her words and ideas as widely as possible. It is, of course, up to the reading public whether they wish to read her books. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 14.

A chara, – My tearful young friend from the West Bank, who has just spent a year studying in Ireland, said goodbye to her Irish friends last week, knowing that she has to fly to Jordan and face three separate border security checks before she makes it home.

She is returning to Hebron, where attacks by Israeli settlers on ordinary Palestinian farmers have increased in recent weeks.

Her friend, from Jerusalem, was able to travel home via Tel Aviv. Because Israel discriminates against Palestinians in different ways, depending on where they live.

Both of them said tearful goodbyes to their friend from Gaza, which is effectively sealed off from the outside world, because they know they can never visit her after they return home.

These gifted young postgraduate students from Palestine, brought to Ireland on scholarship schemes by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, don’t need anyone to tell them that Israel is an apartheid state, with separate rules for those who live in different places.

They have treasured the friendship and solidarity of Irish people during what has been a difficult year of lockdowns, online classes, travel restrictions, and the bombing of civilians back home.

They know that life for Palestinians is extremely difficult and unfair, as they return home to a place which is torn apart by conflict and injustice.

But I also know that they are immensely proud of the principled stance of acclaimed Irish author Sally Rooney, in refusing to sell translation rights to her bestselling new novel to an Israeli publisher, in solidarity with their people.

Sally Rooney’s brave decision has only reinforced their love of Ireland and Irish people as their year here comes to an end. – Is mise,