Twelve days ago, Ahed Tamimi slapped an Israeli soldier, and it is the slap heard round the world. Norman Finkelstein, a scholar of Gandhi’s views on nonviolence, sent along this quote on slapping from the leader of India’s liberation.
“Gandhi Says a Woman Who Smacks Her Attacker is Not Committing Violence
“When a woman is faced by a maniac, what is she to do? . . . In her rage she will slap him . . . That is to say, the woman will use all her physical strength. Will that not constitute violence? . . . In a situation like [this], slapping or scratching, if the occasion demands it, does not constitute violence. The trust of a woman who slaps is not in the slap, her trust is in God . . . Her expression is not an expression of violence, only of her opposition . . . Her anger, her alarm, proclaims for herself as well as for the man her preparedness to die . . . Instead of feeling helpless and scared, she should say to herself: “I shall offer up my body and life, but shall not become a coward.” Her slap or scratching indicates this resolve. It is in itself non-violence. She has no strength to cause harm. Hence her act is not violence.”
Mahatma Gandhi, “What Women Should Do in a Difficult Situation,” Collected Works, 4 September 1932
It should be noted that the soldier in the Ahed Tamimi case was occupying her back yard, in defense of an illegal settlement, and that earlier that day an Israeli soldier had shot Ahed’s cousin in the face.
P.S. Finkelstein has suggested a #METOO! campaign by Palestinian women, in which they slap Israeli soldiers. He acknowledges that such gestures would entail an enormous amount of risk.