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Gandhi said a woman who slaps an attacker is not committing violence

on 7 Comments

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.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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7 Responses

  1. JosephA on December 27, 2017, 11:42 pm

    I believe a #MeToo campaign where Palestinian women slap Israeli soldiers would be most brilliant, and as Finkelstein rightly suggests, most dangerous.

    • Citizen on December 29, 2017, 5:39 am

      Me too. It’s another road to more publicity for the Palestinian cause, for sure, a way to by-pass main media silence and refusal to even say the word “occupation.” A way to get around the moral void that is Trump’s ambassador to Israel.

  2. DaBakr on December 28, 2017, 6:04 am

    In this day and age to imply that women are so physically wreak that a slap or scratch didn’t constitute violence constitutes the kind of rank sexism that the far left is always slinging at the right. Let’s go back to the “little lady times” you might as well say.
    . I’m also thinking of the highly trained women of the IDF and by implementing Gandhi’s own sexist outdated rules for women the IDF soldiers could absolutely slap the shit out of any teenage to 20 something youth who may try and attack, stab, hurt or assault her in any way. Look out! Lol.

  3. Elizabeth Block on December 28, 2017, 12:40 pm

    A Palestinian woman confronting an armed Israeli soldier is indeed weak physically.
    BTW, what does the IDF mean when they say they are the most moral army in the world? Does it mean they don’t make a general practice of rape?

    • Talkback on December 29, 2017, 5:11 am

      It means that their crimes against humanity are more efficient.

  4. JLewisDickerson on December 28, 2017, 12:46 pm

    RE: “Finkelstein has suggested a #METOO! campaign by Palestinian women, in which they slap Israeli soldiers. ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Slap? What’s in a name? Why not call it a ‘love tap’? Delivered by “white flag warriors”.

    • JLewisDickerson on December 28, 2017, 12:53 pm

      ● Flobots: “White Flag Warrior” featuring Tim McIlrath [VIDEO, 03:41]
      . . . They see sharks in the estuary,
      They claim the ark is Bartholemew’s;
      They say “War is necessary,”
      But we say, “War is child abuse!” . . .

      [Jonny 5]
      . . . They shell dwellings to quell the shellings,
      They lift taboos to seduce the cowards;
      They say we’re too yellow-bellied,
      But we say “we’re the new superpower!”

      [Tim McIlrath/Jonny 5]
      We’d rather make our children [We request to negotiate]
      martyrs than murderers! [We come to you unarmed]
      We’d rather make our children [We desire to communicate]
      White Flag Warriors! . . .

      [Tim McIlrath]
      . . . This is love; this is not treason.
      This is love; this is not treason.
      This is love; this is not treason.
      This is love; this is not treason.
      This is love . . .

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