You can hardly avoid it: 30-year-old Irish novelist Sally Rooney has generated a lot of international excitement in recent times in traditional as well as electronic and social media. Rooney has become world famous in recent years through his novels “Conversations with Friends” and “Normal People”. Both books have been translated into 46 languages, and “Ordinary People” has also been filmed as a television series. Essentially, Sally Rooney has been declared the voice of her generation by critics. His new novel “Beautiful World, Where Are You” has been published recently. German translation “Shaun Welt, where are you?” Already exists, but not yet in Hebrew. And this is the crux of the ongoing controversy about the author.
Robert Rotifer, a freelance correspondent from Austria in London, built an ignition radio generator three years ago through BDS, which is the acronym for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions. The BDS is the most controversial movement that preaches a boycott of Israeli products in solidarity with the Palestinians. In the current case of Sally Rooney, she noted for us the great difference in the perception of the BDS and its goals, which exist exclusively between the German-speaking and English-speaking worlds.
Spark: The conflict over the Hebrew translation of the book by Robert, Sally Rooney, is another example of the BDS phenomenon. Could you perhaps briefly explain what this is about?
Robert Rotifer: Overall, one can say that this is again a debate with some talking about anti-colonialism and others anti-Semitism. First reports stated that Rooney had refused to translate his novel into Hebrew, which he called Israel’s apartheid policy towards the Palestinian people and occupied territories in Israel. Of course the news sparked a lot of emotional debate on platforms like Twitter, but also in all kinds of comments around the world. He was accused of anti-Semitism before the details of this story were known, let alone to clarify. And since, as always, in this conflict, attitudes are often determined by the identities of those who call them, I may have to declare myself briefly: I myself come partly, on my mother’s side, If that plays a role, from a Jewish origin but not from a religious family, so my connection with Judaism is not by faith, but by the experience of the Holocaust, on the other hand I have been living in Great Britain for a quarter century. and familiar with the local post-colonial view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And now that it’s clear, we’re not talking about me anyway, but what really happened here.
Absolutely, because as you said, it’s clearly not the case that Sally Rooney refused to translate that into Hebrew in principle.
However, it has since issued a clear statement specifying that it has rejected the specific offer of a translation by the Israeli publisher “Modan”. She justifies this with her support for the BDS, citing current reports from the international organization Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights organization B’Salem, which specifically criminalizes apartheid, i.e. institutional racial discrimination, for the State of Israel. , mainly because of their policy of settling in the occupied territories. Rooney said in his statement that the Hebrew translation rights were still available, and that if he found a way to sell those rights in line with the BDS’s boycott policies, he would be “very happy and proud” to do so. . In response, it alleged, in turn, that there was probably no Israeli publisher that could follow these boycott guidelines, that it would in fact tantamount to boycotting the Hebrew translation. But I believe this is an inevitable gap on your part, which makes the original reporting too hasty and tendentious.
However, this does not change the fact that in fact this BDS movement and boycott call is largely seen as anti-Semitic in Germany. There was also a Bundestag proposal on this. From a German point of view, Rooney continues to swirl in anti-Semitic waters despite this attempt to clarify.
And here we come to the point mentioned about totally different notions. Although I have to say that you can no longer ignore the progress of the debate in Germany. From Great Britain, of course, I also followed discussions that began in the wake of the historian Dirk Musa’s texts on German culture, which he calls the “Sermon of the Germans”, or the much debated German, Jewish writer Fabian. The essay “Only in Germany” by Wolff, which appeared in Die Zeit. Wolff himself did not support the BDS in this, but defended it against widespread accusations of anti-Semitism. So there’s already something going on that can’t be easily avoided by making apodictic claims. But as you said in the beginning, in the English-speaking world to which Sally Rooney belongs, the discourse is completely different.
You mentioned earlier that this is mainly about the post-colonial perspective.
Yes, and here too you have to try again to be specific when you see who’s here where And Why standing. For very understandable, historical reasons, the British are actually very sensitive when the Germans accuse them of anti-Semitism. After all, Hitler was defeated. At the same time, however, the outlook for progressive discourse in Great Britain is shaped by its own transgressions of the past, particularly colonialism. By the way, Palestine was also a British protectorate, so this topic is deeply woven into post-colonial discourse. Sally Rooney, on the other hand, is Irish. And Ireland itself as a British colony has had a very painful historical experience. In her statement, however, she also opposes those who reject Israel’s equation with the South African apartheid state and places special emphasis on Israel: “Of course, many states other than Israel are guilty of serious human rights violations. ,” she writes. But this also applied to South Africa when the campaign against apartheid was going on there. And it also refers to the debate about the boycott of translation, particularly in English-speaking countries, which did not revolve directly on the allegation of anti-Semitism, but rather on the question of whether cultural boycott was a Wise thing or rather a privileged gesture of virtue.
For example, Ronan Burtenshaw, editor of the left-wing magazine “Tribune”, tweeted that it was a very simple decision: “Choose your side – for or against colonialism.” Conservative Spectator Sam Leith’s literary editor, on the other hand, published a blog on the Unheard platform yesterday, showcasing Rooney’s point of view. No Question also refrains from evaluating BDS, but then says that the books are about freedom to spread ideas and that Rooney is diluting the power of his work to change opinion. Even more so, where his audience in Israel has a liberal, internationalist edge. The irony of this observation is that this cosmopolitan audience in Israel will probably read your book in English as well.
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