Sally Rooney may be the darling of the literary world, with an already remarkable international reputation. However, she is also now well known in far-flung places for her views on the Israeli- Palestinian conundrum.
She brought upon herself a torrent of condemnation from the usual quarters for suggesting the Palestinian people are being badly treated by their Israeli masters.
The cockpit of Middle East politics remains one of the most intractable of problems, endlessly parsed and analysed, but with a settlement as far away as ever.
These days, the conflict makes international headlines only when violence reaches a certain level. Otherwise, the status quo continues.
This means the 2.6 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and 190,000 in East Jerusalem try to get by under the watchful eye of the ever-present Israeli army. The 1.6 million trapped in the Gaza Strip survive in what is described as “the largest open-air prison in the world”.
This is the essence of the Palestinian dilemma most recently highlighted by Rooney.
It has been repeatedly asserted there will be no solution unless this cohort of 4.4 million people are accepted as full Israeli citizens, with complete voting rights.
This, of course, is not going to happen. It would lead to the erosion of Israel as an intrinsically Jewish state, and so this leads to another oft-quoted alternative, the “two-state solution”.
This, in the eyes of its proponents, is the only real option to resolve the age-old quarrel between Jew and Arab. Yet various experts suggest this is no longer a realistic or feasible alternative.
Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett has long opposed the creation of a homeland for Palestinians. “The era of the Palestinian state is over,” he has said.
The previous holder of the office, Benjamin Netanyahu, was of the same view. It is widely shared among a significant proportion of the Israeli population.
However, it should be noted that almost an equal percentage of the Israeli public, sections of the country’s media and leading Jewish personalities and commentators resolutely hold to a contrasting argument.
They doggedly maintain permanent peace can only be achieved when Israelis and Palestinians each have a country they can call their own.
The primary obstacle to creating a Palestinian homeland is the ongoing construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and more especially in recent times in East Jerusalem.
Such has been the scale of this state-supported house building for Israeli settlers – in traditional Arab areas – that the possibility of an independent Palestinian state looks increasingly remote. There’s simply not enough land to go round.
On the Palestinian side, there are other extenuating issues such as the virus of corruption coupled with rivalry between the more moderate Fatah and the extremist Hamas.
Israeli authorities also rightly point out there are many countries where human rights are a central issue, but which attract a minuscule amount of the criticism levelled at Israel.
Former justice minister Alan Shatter was one of those taking Rooney to task. However, he failed to acknowledge any serious failings on the Israeli side, such as opposition to a two-state solution or the building of settlements.
Many Irish people wish Israel all the best. They acknowledge the traumatic history of the Jewish people and support the idea that they should live in the promised land of the Bible.
But because of Ireland’s historical memory of dispossession, they also identify strongly with the plight of the Palestinians and their lack of political and civil rights.
A nod of support from afar from an Irish novelist is an irritant to the Israeli authorities and a faint flicker of consolation for Palestinians.
In many ways the latter are now an abandoned people. Pessimists argue that the creation of “facts on the ground” have sealed their fate. They can have little hope for the future.
Anybody who visits Jerusalem or Jenin, Hebron or Nablus will see the anguished underbelly of an otherwise vibrant country. It can be seen in the furtive half-look of the defeated.
All round, the evidence is clear: there are the victors and there are the vanquished.