Leading writers support Sally Rooney decision to refuse publication in Israel

| Artists for Palestine UK |

Seventy prominent writers, poets and playwrights from several continents, have signed a letter endorsing Sally Rooney’s decision to turn down an offer with an Israel publishing house, describing it as

“an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians”. 

Among the signatories are award-winning Irish authors Niamh Campbell and Kevin Barry; Rachel Kushner, Eileen Myles and Eliot Weinburger from the US; Monica Ali, Caryl Churchill, China Miéville and Kamila Shamsie from the UK. 

The writers say that in May this year Rooney was one of more than 16,000 artists who

“… condemned Israel’s crimes in ‘A Letter Against Apartheid’. Israeli apartheid, they said, is ‘sustained by international complicity; it is our collective responsibility to redress this harm’. ”

Despite reports that that two bookshop chains with outlets both in Israel and in settlements in the occupied West Bank say they are pulling Rooney’s novels from their shops in retaliation, the signatories – including publishers Alexandra Pringle, Jacques Testard and Carmen Callil – affirmed their commitment to the Palestinian people, saying:

“Like her [Rooney], we will continue to respond to the Palestinian call for effective solidarity, just as millions supported the campaign against apartheid in South Africa.”

——–

Notes to editors

1- The letter in full:

As fellow writers, we wish to express our support for the novelist Sally Rooney.

Palestinian artists have asked their international colleagues to end complicity in Israel’s violations of their human rights, and this for many of us is a clear ethical obligation. Sally Rooney’s refusal to sign a contract with a mainstream Israeli publisher — which markets the work of the Israeli Ministry of Defence — is therefore an exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians. 

It is less than a year since Human Rights Watchconcluded that Israel had ‘dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians’, amounting to the ‘crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution’. It is only a few months since the last bombing of Gaza, since the most recent incursion into the Al-Aqsa mosque and the new round of expulsion orders in occupied East Jerusalem. 

This is the context of Sally Rooney’s decision. In making it, she is not alone. In May, she was one of more than 16,000 artists who condemned Israel’s crimes in ‘A Letter AgainstApartheid’. Israeli apartheid, they said, is ‘sustained by international complicity; it is our collective responsibility to redress this harm’. 

In supporting Sally Rooney, we reassert that responsibility. Like her, we will continue to respond to the Palestinian call for effective solidarity, just as millions supported the campaign against apartheid in South Africa. We will continue to support the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. 

2. Full list of 70 signatories:

Maan Abu Taleb  writer

Hanan Al-Shaykh  writer

Tariq Ali  writer, broadcaster

Monica Ali  writer

Suad Amiry  writer

Kevin Barry  writer

Ronan Bennet  writer, screenwriter

Nicholas Blincoe  writer

Season Butler  writer, artist

Carmen Callil  writer, publisher, critic

Niamh Campbell  writer

Caryl Churchill  playwright

Sarah Clancy  poet

Isabel Coixet  screenwriter

Robert Coover  writer

Molly Crabapple  writer, artist

Selma Dabbagh  writer

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writer

Geoff Dyer  writer

Ben Ehrenreich   writer, journalist

Inua Ellams writer, artist

Lynn Gaspard  publisher

Francisco Goldman  writer

David Harsent  poet

Seán Hewitt poet, critic

Rita Ann Higgins  poet

Rachel Holmes  writer

Brigid Keenan  writer

Hannah Khalil  playwright 

Nancy Kricorian  writer

Rachel Kushner  writer

Paul Laverty  screenwriter

Ed Luker  poet

Sabrina Mahfouz  poet, playwright

Emer Martin  writer

Ahmed Masoud  writer

Tessa McWatt  writer

Pauline Melville  writer

Lina Meruane  writer

China Miéville  writer

Dana Naomy Mills  writer

Pankaj Mishra  writer

Michel S Moushabeck  publisher

Eileen Myles  poet

Karthika Nair  poet

Courttia Newland  writer, screenwriter

Andrew O’Hagan  writer

John Oakes  publisher

Nii Ayikwei Parkes  writer, editor, curator

Vijay Prashad  historian, editor

Alexandra Pringle  publisher

Keith Ridgway  writer

David Riker  screenwriter

Bruce Robbins  writer, scholar

Colin Robinson  publisher

Andrew Ross  writer

Joe Sacco  cartoonist, journalist 

Sapphire  writer

James Schamus  screenwriter

Kamila Shamsie  writer

Jack Shenker  writer

Rick Simonson  bookseller

Gillian Slovo  writer

Ahdaf Soueif  writer

Jacques Testard  publisher

 V  playwright, performer

William Wall  writer

Naomi Wallace  playwright, screenwriter

Eliot Weinberger  writer

Penny Woolcock  screenwriter, director

3. Human Rights Watch report (April 2021): A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution

4. ‘This is not a conflict: this is apartheid’: over 16,000 artists sign letter in solidarity with Palestine

5. Sally Rooney novels pulled from Israeli bookstores following translation boycott, (The Guardian, November 2021)

6. The retailers said to be pulling Sally Rooney’s novels operate in Israeli settlements.
i) Steimatzky bookstore’s branch in Ma’ale Adumim, one of the largest settlement blocks on occupied Palestinian land

ii) Tzomet bookstore’s branch located on Faran street, in Ramat Eshkol settlement.
_