Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference's morning general session at the Verizon Center in Washington March 21, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTSBINR

When the Feminist Establishment Candidate is Further Right than Trump

Hillary Clinton spoke before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference this weekend and rather unsurprisingly proved that on certain matters of human rights—namely those of women in the Global Southshe is even more conservative than Donald Trump himself.

At the gathering of some of the most powerful—and most racist—lobbyists in Washington, Clinton used her speech to praise every aspect of American and Israeli state violence, vowing to take the U.S.-Israel relationship to “the next level”—a level, Lauren McCauley notes, which includes more war and imperialism, few, if any, rights for Palestinians, and definitely no economic boycotts of Israel.

She pledged to “provide Israel with the most sophisticated defense technology” and “invite Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] to visit the White House,” a barely veiled rebuke to the Obama administration for only mildly (at best) distancing itself from an Israeli government committed to race-mongering, apartheid polices, and continuing the Occupation. She expressed pride in “imposing crippling sanctions” against civilians in Iran, sanctions which have denied access to women’s health services and life-saving treatment for hundreds of thousands of Iranians. She repeated typically neocon talking points about “Iranian aggression” being the biggest threat to Middle Eastern stability—an especially rich comment, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole noted, given the fact she has done nothing in the Middle East but advocate for aggression and the invasion of other countries illegally (why do we keep forgetting the Iraq war?). Clinton doubled down on growing youth movements to defend Palestinian human life, pledging to fight against the bedrock of progressive community organizing: boycotts.

And then she lambasted Trump for the only thing he’s probably ever said for which he shouldn’t be criticized, that he’d try to be neutral in heading up negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. This was perhaps the greatest absurdity of the entire spectacle—and perhaps the clearest example of the debasement of mainstream feminist politics – that Clinton tried positioning herself as the feminist candidate while at the same time running to the right of Donald Trump when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.

So where all my Clinton-supporting feminists at? Have you denounced her latest disgusting speech? While all of this might seem jargon-y and very removed from the everyday lives of women living in the Global North, Clinton’s policies have had – and will have – horrifically violent consequences for women living in Iraq, Palestine, Iran, and most of the Middle East. If Clinton took the action she talked about at AIPAC, food and basic human needs would become even more inaccessible to huge swaths of their communities, women would have even less access to reproductive health care and autonomy, and violence and militarization would increase. I’ve written this before and think it warrants writing again: when Clinton supporters refuse to apologize for liking her, or refuse to qualify their support of her, they are saying that they do not have to listen to or prioritize the voices of women she has locked up – or blown up – in Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, or Pakistan.

A feminism that allows folks to support Clinton without accounting for the damage she’s done to so many women of color and our communities is one that is sadly far removed from its core commitment to anti-violence.

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Mahroh Jahangiri is the former Executive Director of Know Your IX, a national survivor- and youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She cares about the ways in which American militarization, racism, and sexual violence impact communities of color transnationally. You can say hi to her at @mahrohj.

Mahroh Jahangiri is the former Executive Director of Know Your IX, a national survivor- and youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools.

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