May 20, 2024

Stars wear pins calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as well as the release of captives at the Academy Awards.

Celebrities, including musicians Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, Poor Things star Mark Ruffalo, and comedian Ramy Youssef, wore red pins at the 96th Academy Awards to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

But what is the symbolism behind the pin? Here is what we know about it.

What were the red pins at the Oscars?

The red pins were distributed by Artists4Ceasefire, a group of celebrities and entertainment industry members who collectively signed a letter late in October asking United States President Joe Biden to demand a ceasefire as well as the safe release of captives in Gaza. The pin design shows a red glossy circle with a hand and a black heart.

“The pin symbolises collective support for an immediate and permanent cease-fire, the release of all of the hostages and for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza,” Artists4Ceasefire said in a press release.

“Compassion must prevail,” it added. The more than 380 signatories include Cate Blanchett, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez and Bradley Cooper.

“We are asking for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza,” actor and comedian Ramy Youssef told US media. “We are asking for justice and peace for the Palestinian people and also you know, a really universal message, which is let’s just stop killing the children,” he added.

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 at Hollywood
A red pin worn to call for a ceasefire in Gaza arriving on the red carpet at the 96th Annual Academy Awards in Dolby Theatre [Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images]

Prior to Sunday’s ceremony, the red pins were seen at the Grammys and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards in February. During that time, Ruffalo was also spotted wearing the pin.

“We’re not going to bomb our way to peace, and all we’re saying is, what’s wrong with giving a ceasefire a chance?” Ruffalo said on the DGA red carpet.

Separately, during the Golden Globe Awards in January, some stars were spotted wearing a yellow ribbon that was used to show support for the captives being held by Hamas.

(From L)Sunrise Coigney and US actor Mark Ruffalo attend the 96th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 10
Sunrise Coigney and US actor Mark Ruffalo attend the 96th Annual Academy Awards [David Swanson/AFP]

How else did Israel’s war in Gaza show up in the Oscars conversation?

Outside the Dolby Theatre, groups like the Los Angeles branch of Jewish Voice for Peace held up placards and chanted for a ceasefire in Gaza, blocking several lanes of traffic.

Among the protesters was SAG-AFTRA Members for a Ceasefire, a group of working actors.

The demonstrators said they sought to ensure that Israel’s assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah was not ignored, even amid the glitz and glamour of the evening.

More than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed so far in five months of the Israeli military offensive, which has prompted concerns over the risk of genocide and famine.

According to a post on X by Nicole Sperling, a New York Times reporter, the protests “shut down the cross street of Highland and Fountain, a main thoroughfare”.

“The Academy is sending golf carts to retrieve the celebrities who got stuck,” she added.

The director of the chilling Holocaust drama The Zone of Interest likewise lent his voice to the cause, while accepting his Oscar for Best International Feature.

“All our choices are made to reflect and confront us in the present – not to say, ‘Look what they did then’, rather ‘look what we do now’,” film director Jonathan Glazer said. “Our film shows where dehumanisation leads at its worst. It shaped all of our past and present.”

“Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation that has led to conflict for so many innocent people, whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza,” he said to applause.

A protester holds a poster during a demonstration in support of Palestinians calling for a ceasefire in Gaza
A protester holds a poster during a demonstration in support of Palestinians calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, near the Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 [Etienne Laurent/AP Photo]

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