It is not easy to convince the Snapchat generation to read books. To do so, you must be a gifted writer and know which buttons to press in young people’s hearts. Sally Rooney, a young Irish author, is that kind of writer. Her first two books have won multiple awards and she is widely regarded as one of the most prominent voices of millennials.
Rooney is also very opinionated. She is a self-proclaimed Marxist and an avid supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS). In line with her views, she has refused to sell translation rights to Israeli publishers. Because of her notoriety, her decision caused quite a stir. The New York Times stated, “Sally Rooney Declines to Sell Translation Rights to Israeli Publisher.” CNN echoed, “Sally Rooney refuses to sell Hebrew rights for latest book to Israeli publisher, citing political objections,” and other prominent news outlets also reported her decision.
In response, Israel’s two largest bookstore chains announced that they would pull all of Rooney’s titles from their shelves. This also caused a stir, though not as much. The BBC reported it, as did The Guardian and other British news outlets. Naturally, the Jewish press was all over the case, as well.
I sympathize with the response of the bookstore chains, just as I was in favor of banning other individuals and brands that boycott Israel. At the same time, I understand why they are doing this, and I am glad that it is causing a stir in Israel.
We can look the other way for only so long. At some point, we will have to ask ourselves why the world hates us, and it is better if we do it now than later.
We need to use such incidents constructively. By “constructively,” I mean that we should use them as an impetus to return to the roots of our nation, to our fundamental principles of mutual responsibility and brotherly love. These are the building blocks of our nation, and these are the qualities that we lost long ago and for which we were exiled from Israel.
When we were cast as a nation that was to be “a light unto nations,” we were made to reflect the splendor of love of others to the entire world. Long before we gave the world Albert Einstein and Arthur Rubenstein, we gave it “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Granted, we did not quite manage to make it a reality, but the idea itself was, and still is, so novel, so unlike human nature, that to this day it seems undoable.
Still, the world will not leave us in peace until we begin to implement this very legacy we had left to humanity. Indeed, it makes perfect sense to demand that the progenitors of this sublime idea be the first to implement it.
The more the world becomes divided and hostile, the more it needs its opposite – love of others. The more people hate each other, the more they will demand that we love each other, and they will hate us for not doing so and setting an example for the world to follow.
In the near future, numerous celebrities, pundits, and politicians will declare their disapproval of Israel. They will not justify our existence as a sovereign state unless we justify it by setting an example of unity. Nothing else will satisfy them; nothing else will appease their hatred.
For more on this, see my publication The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-Semitism.