What Did the Pins Worn by Celebrities at the 2024 Oscars Mean?

Mark Ruffalo, Billie Eilish and Ramy Youssef were among the Academy Awards attendees sporting such pins.

Published March 11, 2024

Updated March 12, 2024
 (Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images

On March 10, 2024, as celebrities filed onto the red carpet at the 96th annual Academy Awards (better known as the Oscars), more than 1,000 protesters stood in the streets surrounding the Dolby Theatre, which hosts the awards ceremony, calling for a cease-fire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. According to the Los Angeles Times, the protests managed to create enough gridlock to delay the ceremony about six minutes.

But it was not just protesters blocking traffic who were demonstrating their support for a cease-fire. On the red carpet, some celebrities could be seen sporting red lapel pins featuring an orange hand and a black heart, created as part of the Artists4Ceasefire campaign. The pins were spotted at the Grammys (Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers, among others) and at the SAG awards (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), as well as the Oscars (Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, et al.).

Youssef explained why he was wearing the pin when questioned about it on the red carpet:

A red pin worn to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza arriving on the red carpet at the 96th Annual Academy Awards in Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Sunday, March 10, 2024. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images), a website directly connected with the pin campaign, published an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden signed by actors and other artists. The letter states, in part: 

We ask that, as President of the United States, you and the US Congress call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza and Israel before another life is lost. More than 30,000 people have been killed over the last 5 months, and over 69,000 injured* – numbers that any person of conscience knows are catastrophic. We believe all life is sacred, no matter faith or ethnicity and we condemn the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

We urge your administration, Congress, and all world leaders, to honor all of the lives in the Holy Land and call for and facilitate a ceasefire without delay – an end to the bombing of Gaza, and the safe release of hostages. Half of Gaza's two million residents are children, and more than two thirds are refugees and their descendants being forced to flee their homes. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach them.

We reached out to a representative of Artists4Ceasefire to inquire about the meaning of the pins and received the following explanation via email:

The Artists4Ceasefire enamel pin is composed of a red background to symbolize the urgency of the call to save lives. The orange hand conveys the beautiful community of people from all backgrounds that have come together in support of centering our shared humanity. The heart being cradled in the center of the hand is an invitation for us to lead with our hearts, always, to lead with love. When we lead with love, we understand that all of our fellow beings deserve to be loved and protected.

But according to social media posts, including one from the official X (formerly Twitter) account of the nation of Israel, the "red pin" actually symbolizes "one horrific event imprinted on the minds of Israelis and Palestinians. The 2000 Ramallah lynching of Israelis," a real event that occurred on Oct. 12, 2000.

Snopes spoke with representatives for Artists4Ceasefire via Zoom interview. They stressed numerous times that the hand present on the pin's design was orange, not red. They did not provide further comment.

'The 2000 Ramallah Lynching of Israelis'

In July 2000, President Bill Clinton invited then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and then-Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat to Camp David for discussions on reducing tensions in the region. According to Aaron David Miller, one of the U.S. negotiators at the summit, it felt a bit doomed from the start.

We had everything we needed at Camp David—except the key ingredients to make the summit succeed. Clinton, who was at this point in his presidency looking for legacy, realized the odds of success were very long. Indeed, during the second briefing before the summit he made clear that whatever the outcome, trying and failing was better than not trying at all.

Nothing much came out of it. But on Sept. 28, 2000, the lack of negotiations really began to sting. Ariel Sharon, who would defeat Barak to become Prime Minister in 2001, traveled to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, considered one of the holiest sites for both Jews and Muslims alike. Palestinians protested and the over 1,000 riot police with Sharon did not show restraint. The Second Intifada (meaning uprising) began.

Tensions escalated further throughout the next few weeks, leading us to Oct. 12, 2000. On that date, two Israeli military reservists traveling through the West Bank towards the Israeli settlement of Beit El accidentally entered into the Palestinian city of Ramallah. They were apprehended by the police and detained. A rumor began spreading around that the two men were in fact Israeli undercover agents. A mob formed outside the police station. The two men were stabbed and beaten before being thrown out of a window.

An Italian crew captured footage of the riot, and this footage is where the photo of a Palestinian man (Aziz Salha, who later served prison time for his role in the lynching) with his blood-stained hands comes from.

'Blood On Your Hands,' a History

Since red is the color of human blood, when people paint their hands red or wear a red poppy for Memorial Day, the use of red often represents some form of bloodshed. The symbol of a red hand in particular has been used before in different contexts.

In the historic Irish province of Ulster, the hand has been called the Red Hand of Ulster for centuries. It's found on the flag of Northern Ireland, and during The Troubles, the hand was frequently used as a symbol by Loyalists who wished for Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

More recently, a red hand has also been used as a symbol for murdered and missing indigenous women, sometimes known by the acronym MMIW. Jordan Marie Daniel, a professional distance runner and a Kul Wicasa Oyate citizen (South Dakota's Lower Brule Sioux Reservation), runs her races with a red handprint on her face in honor of murdered and missing indigenous women.

And finally, individuals who support Palestine and wish to call for a cease-fire have been chanting at protests that the Israeli government (and others) "has blood on its hands" because of its actions in Gaza. 

By scrolling through social media posts spreading the claim that red-hands symbolism refers to the Ramallah lynchings, Snopes was able to trace it as far back as 8 p.m. EDT on the day of the Oscars ceremony. That post was made by David Kaufman, a journalist who writes for the New York Post and is an adjunct fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute, a pro-Israel group dedicated to combating antisemitism. His post contained a meme that said:

I wish that the people wearing those "red hand" pins at the Oscars tonight knew that the origin of that symbol is from the LYNCHING of two Israelis by a violent Palestinian mob back in 2000...

But again, representatives of Artists4Ceasefire stated unequivocally that the hand on the pin was not red, but orange. The presence of the black heart in the center of the hand further complicates the claim of a lynching connection.

As evidence for his claim, Kaufman provided one explanatory link, a blog post from Dec. 30, 2023. The blog post spent at most five sentences attempting to explain the connection.

The blog's author presented one thing (a photograph of a Palestinian man with blood on his hands after killing an Israeli soldier) next to another thing (red-hand symbolism at pro-Palestine protests), and claimed that the second was a direct consequence of the first. What was lacking was evidence to support that claim, however.

Luckily for us, the blog cited its sources. Unfortunately for the claim, none of those sources proved this correlation either — they all described the events of Oct. 12, 2000, without mentioning anything about red hands (much less orange hands) later being used in pro-Palestine protests to symbolize those events.

In fact, not all attendees who wore pins in support of a Gaza cease-fire wore the Artists4Ceasefire pin. Milo Machado-Graner and Swann Arlaud, who acted in "Anatomy of a Fall," simply wore pins with the Palestinian flag on them.


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This story has been updated to reflect information Snopes learned in a Zoom interview with representatives of Arists4Ceasefire.

Jack Izzo is a Chicago-based journalist and two-time "Jeopardy!" alumnus.