Open Letter to Hillary Clinton: We demand ceasefire now and action for Palestine

We, a group of Vital Voices fellows from around the world and Global Trailblazer Awardees, wish to express our deep disappointment with your public remarks on October 29, 2023. During which, you stated, "People who are calling for a cease-fire now do not understand Hamas; that is not possible. It would be such a gift to Hamas because they would spend whatever time there was a cease-fire in effect rebuilding their armaments, you know, creating stronger positions to be able to fend off an eventual assault by the Israelis." Your refusal to call for a ceasefire means that you condone the continued killing of Palestinians. You failed to realize that the key issue here is not Hamas, or even just about Gaza, but about Palestinian civilians. At the time of writing, 9,633 Palestinians have been killed (last update: 4th of November 2023) - most of whom are women and children. By the time you read this letter, the death toll will be even higher. They are not just numbers; they are a grim testament to a world failing its moral compass, allowing the unthinkable to pass.

As co-founder of Vital Voices, your mission has been to support women leaders in addressing the world's most pressing challenges. You have described Vital Voices as "venture catalysts," identifying those with a bold vision for change and partnering with women to turn those visions into reality. Consequently, Vital Voices has aimed to invest in and support women from all countries, including Palestine. Each year, the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award Ceremony honors women leaders in various categories, including human rights and peacebuilding. We are compelled to question how this position aligns with the organization’s ethos of uplifting voices for peace and human rights. It seems incongruous with the laudable aim of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, which celebrates women who are paving paths towards peace and healing in their communities. Can we, in good conscience, champion peace builders on one hand, while dismissing the prospects of peace on the other? 

Furthermore, how do you reconcile your stance against a cease-fire with your famous statement, "Women's Rights are Human Rights," when you fail to champion Palestinian women's rights, in fact, undermine them, even as they continue to be slaughtered?

While the Vital Voices organization promptly took action during the Ukrainian refugee crisis, supported the Iran Woman, Life, Freedom protests, and provided comprehensive support to women fellows, there was a noticeable absence of action when Palestinian people were being killed, and Palestinian fellows were not reached out to immediately. How can you reconcile this with your commitment to equal rights and supporting principles?

You are aware of the distressing reports emerging from international agencies, painting a dire picture that demands immediate attention and action. UNICEF's alarming figures indicate over 3,500 children killed in just 25 days, emphasizing a catastrophic impact on the youngest victims. UNFPA sheds light on the plight of women and girls in Gaza, with 50,000 pregnant women trapped in an active warzone. Save the Children's recent findings reveal a heart-wrenching reality where a child is killed every 10 minutes. In fact, two-thirds of the casualties are women and children, a blatant violation of international law. Beyond that, the atrocities Palestinian women and children are facing under the Israeli siege, include surgeries without anesthesia due to denied access to anesthetics, and premature babies losing life opportunities as hospitals are denied fuel for incubators. The World Health Organization reports the collapse of health infrastructure in Gaza, with 14 out of 36 hospitals non-functional due to fuel shortages, damage, and insecurity. 

The systematic attacks on civilian structures in Gaza and the West Bank, were described in the resignation of Craig Mokhiber, the Director of the New York office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and these descriptions support the characterisation of these acts as genocide. That these acts are in fact criminal, and not acts of self-defense, is further stated in the 25 October letter by The Elders stating “These are not legitimate acts of self-defense: they are clear violations of international humanitarian law, and some amount to atrocities for which there needs to be criminal accountability."

Your statements, which effectively support the continuation of hostilities on citizens- women and children by dismissing calls for a ceasefire as naïve, are inexcusable in light of these revelations. It is incomprehensible to us how a stance that appears to tolerate such disproportionate violence can be reconciled with a commitment to human rights and dignity. This is not just about strategy; it is about the preservation of life and the prevention of suffering. The horrific atrocities of the Holocaust weren’t a result of one-man actions; rather, the result of the complicity of many who enabled his actions. It is heartbreaking that the words 'Never Again', uttered after the Holocaust, have been ignored - and that the people of Palestine are paying the price.

The assertions by Israeli officials regarding the relocation of Gaza's population and the overt acts of violence against civilian targets -including the use of internationally banned weapons with the apparent consent of the U.S. are chillingly reminiscent of the darkest chapters of history.

We urge you, as a leader respected on the global stage, to align your position with the imperative of protecting innocent lives. To remain silent or to reject a ceasefire is to be complicit in these atrocities. History has its eyes on us, and we must not repeat the mistakes of the past by standing idle while genocidal acts unfold before the international community.

It is time to stand unequivocally for what is right. We call on you to advocate for an immediate ceasefire and to use your considerable influence to bring about an end to the violence and a commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of all involved. Palestinian blood is not less worthy than American blood, Ukranian blood or Israeli blood. We are deeply alarmed to watch Western media dehumanize Palestinian people, following the same path as what Nazis did to justify the killing of Jews 80 years ago. The world should have learned its lesson by now and acceptance of ethnic cleansing and genocide, no matter who it applies to, should never be part of the world we hope to raise our children in.

Political agendas should never come at the expense of humanity, children, or women The responsibility that lies on the shoulders of world leaders and politicians today is huge as, lest they speak up and take firm action, they will be held accountable by future generations for the ethnic cleansing, eradication and suffering of an entire nation.

Action Points that VV Fellows are demanding;

-CEASEFIRE NOW! Immediate and Complete CEASEFIRE!We invite you to reconsider your statements and extend an apology to the Palestinian people.

-Your renowned statement, 'Women's Rights are Human Rights'' and the mission of Vital Voices serves as a testament to your commitment to equality and justice. We demand that ALL Women’s rights are human rights, without caveats and double standards. 

 -USE YOUR VITAL VOICE  and influence to advocate for full humanitarian aid to Palestine - with a special focus on the needs of women and children.

-Refuse to condone funding of Israeli military at the expense of Palestinian lives.

-Commit to supporting Palestinian women in their continued relief and recovery.

- Over the long term, commit to building Palestinian women's leadership in transition and new statehood.

It is with our collective voice, that we send this open letter. Our intent is to disseminate this communication across various online and media platforms, in multiple languages to ensure its reach. We also wish to emphasize our commitment to transparency by publicly acknowledging any response or acknowledgement from your esteemed side.

First Story
Our Voices Rising
Like this story?
Join World Pulse now to read more inspiring stories and connect with women speaking out across the globe!
Leave a supportive comment to encourage this author
Tell your own story
Explore more stories on topics you care about