Author reverses tour cancelation after BDS threats, ‘son deserved to die'

In addition to death threats to her and her family, author Chloe Walsh was told that her late son died because of her association with Israel.

 Promotional image for the Chloe Walsh event canceled after a harassment campaign. (photo credit: Safrut She'nogaat)
Promotional image for the Chloe Walsh event canceled after a harassment campaign.
(photo credit: Safrut She'nogaat)

After a targeted harassment campaign by anti-Israel activists that mocked the passing of her late son pushed her to cancel her Israel book tour, popular romance author Chloe Walsh announced on Thursday that she would indeed come to Israel in February.

Safrut She'nogaat, the Israeli romance book publisher that organized the event with Walsh, said that the author confirmed her attendance in February and sent a message to her supporters.

"I am not a politician. I'm an author. I come from love, and yesterday the enormous hatred directed towards me and toppled me,” said Walsh. “I guess I'm naive because I didn't believe that such evil existed in the world.My supportive family never allowed me to give in and give up. And this morning I woke up braver and stronger and I won't let terror win! I will not allow a handful of extremists to silence and control me by fear. I'm coming to Israel!Tell my readers that I love them and I'm coming to see them. "

Chloe Walsh bullied into canceling 

Walsh had uploaded an Instagram story saying how grateful she was to her Israeli supporters after her three-day tour sold out within six minutes. In response, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activists began to attack her, demanding she not go on the tour.

"Messages saying my son deserved to die because I said thank you to my readers for supporting me is sick!"

Chloe Walsh

Death threats and bullying

The Irish author lost one of her twins during pregnancy only a year ago. Activists said in their messages that the child had passed because of Walsh's association with Israel. She also received death threats against her and her family, fans reported.

"Messages saying my son deserved to die because I said thank you to my readers for supporting me is sick!" Walsh said in a Wednesday post. "I am grateful to everyone who reads my books. It's not a political statement and telling me that it's my fault my son died in messages and DMs [direct messages] is beyond cruel."

Walsh deleted dozens of posts to remove the offending content.

 Israeli romance genre fans lining up to meet Cora Reilly at Beit Ziona America.. (credit: Maria Troinker) Israeli romance genre fans lining up to meet Cora Reilly at Beit Ziona America.. (credit: Maria Troinker)

Safrut She'nogaat wrote in a statement on Wednesday that the author had been "hurt and badly frightened, the situation stressed her mentally and she is severely distressed."

"I am so very sorry for my post for offending anyone," Walsh wrote Wednesday. "It was thoughtless and I didn't mean any harm. Of course, I should know better. I didn't mean any harm and deeply apologize to those I hurt for my stupidity and ignorance. I am very sorry."

"I am grateful to everyone who reads my books. It's not a political statement and telling me that it's my fault my son died in messages and DMs [direct messages] is beyond cruel."

Chloe Walsh

Israeli fans supportive of Walsh

Fans and supporters had been understanding and supportive of Walsh's cancellation, and had also been sending messages of encouragement to "make her to feel that there is light, not just darkness," Safrut She'nogaat told The Jerusalem Post.

"Chloe, whether you choose to come to us or not, we support you and wish you only the best," said an online petition that fans circulated. "This petition is to show you that so many good people love you. Those people who engage in online bullying are not good people, and you do not deserve such treatment."

"How can it be that every time someone says the word Israel they'll receive harassment?"

Safrut Shenogaat

BDS attacks strong romance fandom in Israel

Safrut She'nogaat told the Post how Walsh "is one of the most beloved romance authors in Israel," and how when ticket sales opened initially their website crashed. With tickets selling out within a few minutes, what was initially just one event in February became three. 

The publisher decried the environment in the cultural sphere.

"How can it be that every time someone says the word Israel they'll receive harassment?" 

 Israeli romance genre fans meet Cora Reilly at Beit Ziona America.. (credit: Maria Troinker) Israeli romance genre fans meet Cora Reilly at Beit Ziona America.. (credit: Maria Troinker)

Fellow Irish author Cora Reilly had also received abuse when she was invited to Israel by Safrut She'nogaat — threats to give low ratings to her books on online retailers. Reilly came to Israel despite the harassment. 

"Chloe, Whether you choose to come to us or not, we support you and wish you only the best."

Fan petition

"Every time authors come they're attacked, but are very excited to come to Israel and meet fans," said Safrut She'nogaat, explaining that there is a very active fanbase for the romance genre in Israel. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, they hosted an event which dozens of authors attended.