Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

What the red hands on the ceasefire pins mean to many of us who love Israel

Let’s talk about the red hands on the Oscar pins and why it’s a fraught and painful issue for many of us who care about Israel:

You didn’t know me then, but back in 2000, I was a freshman at UC Berkeley when things got crazy in Israel when the Second Intifada erupted.

I will never forget the first time it hit me hard – I had just finished taking an anthro 1 quiz. I was drinking a green tea boba tea. And I was reading CNN online when I saw the story about the lynching in Ramallah.

Two Israelis, Yosef Avrahami and Vadim Norzhich, had made a very wrong turn, and would never turn back. They were swallowed by a lynch mob whole, who beat them, stabbed them, gouged their eyes out, and disemboweled them as they lay on the floor of the Ramallah police station.

And when one of the Israeli men’s phones rang and rang and rang – his wife, worried that she hadn’t heard from him – his killer picked up the phone and said “your husband is dead.”

The words were enough to make me sick – just as I’m sure they’re making you sick, too.

But it was the photograph that ran alongside the text that left me screaming, screaming, screaming out of my mind, a keening wail from across ten time-zones, as I stared at the picture of one of the men who did this to them, who squeezed their lives from their bodies with such brutal inhumanity, and who then stood by the open window and waved to the cheering crowd below.

His hands, like two bloody flags waving from the window, his hands like something from the darkest recesses of the mind that drags us to that place where humanity shambles off to die. His hands, those two hands with five fingers each, just like mine, just like yours, covered in the blood of another man… a Jew. A Jew like me.

So when I see the Artists for Ceasefire pins with the red hand on it – that’s what I think about. I can’t NOT think about it.

And I wonder if the designers knew about this story. I wonder if they knew but didn’t care. I wonder, also, if it was done on purpose… I’d like to think it wasn’t, but I wonder… I wonder if the celebrities wearing the pins knew the history of the Second Intifada which nearly brought us to our knees in Israel, or about the lynching in Ramallah and those horrible hands out the window red with human blood and if they did know about any of this, I wonder if they made the connection and just didn’t care. And, I have to wonder why they couldn’t also bring themselves to wear a yellow ribbon in solidarity with the suffering of the hostages held captive in Gaza alongside the red. Surely, the human heart is big enough to care for both Palestinians and Jews who bleed the same color anyway?

I wonder.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.