Received a great question this morning from a good friend who is fluent in many languages:
Since I don’t even trust my own on social media:
Everybody is posting images of Palestinian kids showing 3 fingers and saying that it is done to celebrate the kidnapping of the 3 Israeli boys.
However, how do we know for sure that this is not just a common hand sign among Arabs – like the OK sign in the US, not necessarily tied to our 3 boys?
For example, in Italy we show one thumb to say OK, which would be quite vulgar and mean something completely different in other countries. Your OK sign means something quite vulgar in some Italian regions. Both are apolitical 😉
Did anybody produce evidence that all those 3 finger signs are directly related to the kidnapping?
Following is my response:
Not a dumb question at all.
Unfortunately this three-fingered celebration is being taught in Arab schools and by parents and appearing on posters and in official media.
In 40 years of relationships, good and bad, with our Arab neighbors I never saw one raise three fingers (one and two are standard) for any reason.
It’s already on cakes and cookies and candies being distributed to “celebrate” the “victory” over the “occupation.”
I personally helped author and edit the Olympic movement’s guide book to international gestures after a nasty incident in 1992 so I am familiar with many of the worlds lesser known gestures.
There are three finger salutes used by scouts and guides around the world and the Serbs have a three fingered salutation using the thumb. There is an old Ukranian gesture with three fingers and a three finger swearing posture in Germanic European cultures.such as Germany, Sweden, Austria and Finland called Schwurhand – however all of these are used as cultural/political salutes for the purpose of swearing or pledging allegiance – not as a celebration and the thumb is almost always shown either slightly curled or raised.
Two other instances of using three fingers was by neo-Nazi’s as a replacement for the Nazi salute after the “Heil” gesture was outlawed and just this year in Thailand as part of opposition to military coup.
I also spoke to a professor who is a world expert in Arab language and culture and he confirmed that it was new and directly related.
There is one other case of three fingers – a good friend of ours from Miami tells of a day when her Cuban (Jewish) mother was given the finger by a driver in Miami and she responded; “You give me one? I give you three!”
It’s sad but its true…
… and BTW while we are at it – PUT YOUR FLAGS BACK UP!!