CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. — Former Secretary of State Hilarity Clifton has announced her decision to drop out of the 2016 presidential campaign and to retire from politics permanently. Effective immediately, she will assume the position of director of Human Rights for All Women Foundation, a new nonprofit organization with headquarters in Ramallah, New York City, Nairobi, and Charleston, S.C.
Clifton made the announcement in a speech yesterday before a gathering of United Nations Women, the international organization’s principal body devoted to promoting women’s rights. Further stunning the audience, she also renounced her former position on Israel and Palestine, last expressed in an interview in The Forward in October. In the interview, she promised to strengthen America’s “strategic partnership and security commitment to Israel,” and to maintain its “qualitative military edge.” Early on in her presidential campaign, she had extended an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the White House during her first month in office to discuss combating the growing influence of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement.
According to Clifton, the testimonies of women in Palestine led her to conclude that the Israeli security regime has “taken a terrible toll” on women and girls in the occupied territories. She added that the policies and practices of the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli border patrol police, and throughout the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are in “flagrant contradiction” of the feminist principles she endorsed at the 1995 United Nations Women’s Conference in Beijing and on subsequent occasions. She emphasized that it is not just Palestinian women who suffer, but all women who are forced to live under oppressive regimes and militarized racism.
In her roles as Senator and Secretary of State and in her presidential campaigns, she has endorsed the promise of equality for women worldwide. Although Clifton has often been credited with the slogan “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” it originated with women’s human rights activists in the United States, South Asia and Latin America.
The mission of the Human Rights for All Women Foundation is to publicize and change the conditions of oppressed women everywhere. Board members will be predominantly women who represent movements and organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Women in Law and Development in Africa, and the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights.
According to Clifton’s advisors, initial inspiration for the new foundation was a statement issued by the Jerusalemite Women’s Coalition, titled “Palestinian Women from Occupied East Jerusalem Call for Protection.” Dated October 24, 2015, it states that the women of Occupied East Jerusalem “feel displaced even at home, as the Israeli soldiers, armed settlers, border patrol, and police, invade our homes, attack our families, strip-search our bodies, and terrorize us all.” The statement called for “protection and urgent actions to prevent further agonies, uprooting, demonization, and suffering.”