Stars wear pins calling for ceasefire in Gaza, release of captives at Oscars

GIANTS OF THE SCREEN have used recent awards shows to call for an end to conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip. 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 calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. What is the symbolism behind the pin? Here is what we know about it.

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," 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.

The pins were also worn at the Grammys and the Directors Guild of America Awards in February and January, respectively. During that time, Ruffalo was also spotted wearing the pin. "We're not going to bomb our way to peace," he said on the DGA red carpet, "and all we're saying is, what's wrong with giving a ceasefire a chance?"

Separately, during the Golden Globe Awards in January, some stars were spotted wearing yellow ribbons that showed support for the captives being held by Hamas.

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. They said they ensured 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.

During an acceptance speech for his film The Zone of Interest, director Jonathan Glazer lent his voice to the cause. "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," he said to applause, "whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza."

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