“I don’t think she can call herself a feminist”: Palestinian blasts Hillary Clinton for “selective” feminism
(This article is published in Salon.)
“There are millions of women and girls like me. What about us? According to [Hillary Clinton], we do not exist. We are invisible, like women have been treated throughout history,” wrote Layali Awwad, a young Palestinian feminist and human rights activist, in an open letter to Hillary Clinton.
Awwad was responding to an article Clinton published in The Forward on Nov. 4, in which the Democratic presidential candidate reaffirmed her “unbreakable bond” with hard-line right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“When you chose to speak about my homeland, not once did you mention Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinian women and children,” Awwad wrote to Clinton. “Even worse, you described us as lurking terrorists motivated only by ‘incitement,’ as if the Israeli military occupation does not exist.”
Layali Awwad grew up in the city of Ramallah, in the West Bank, which has been under illegal Israeli military occupation since 1967. It was under this brutal military occupation that she has lived virtually all of her life. Awwad says her childhood was taken away from her. Since age five, she has had to trek through Israeli military checkpoints to go to school. She recalls being “searched and humiliated on a daily basis,” having dogs sicced on her, and being shot at by Israeli occupation soldiers.
Now a freshman at Kenyon College, in Ohio, Awwad is pursuing a career in human rights advocacy. With her open letter to Clinton — which circulated widely, garnering more than 20,000 shares in three days — the young activist’s work appears to have already begun.
Awwad sat down with Salon and discussed her experiences as a Palestinian feminist, her criticisms of Clinton, and her hopes for the future.
“The Palestinian issue is a feminist issue,” Awwad stressed, and by being on the side of the military occupier, not the side of the occupied, Clinton is defying basic feminist principles.