The chilling rise of the Hamas red triangle

Anti-Israel bigots have adopted the terror group’s propaganda symbol to threaten and intimidate Jews.

Daniel Ben-Ami

Topics USA

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Earlier this week, inverted red triangles were daubed on the New York home of Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum. Alongside the ominous symbols was a banner that stated: ‘Anne Pasternak / Brooklyn Museum / White Supremacist Zionist.’ Underneath, in a smaller red font, were the words, ‘funds genocide’. The homes of other Brooklyn Museum board members were also daubed with red triangles.

This act of gross anti-Semitic intimidation – Pasternak herself is Jewish – appears to be a follow-up to last month’s large anti-Israel demonstration outside the Brooklyn Museum. Protesters demanded that the museum condemn the killing of Palestinians in Gaza, disclose its financial ties to Israel and start divesting from the Jewish State.

This attack on the homes of Pasternak and other board members comes on the back of countless other anti-Semitic incidents in New York, the city with the largest Jewish population in the world. These include a keffiyeh-sporting mob on a subway carriage chanting ‘Raise your hands if you’re a Zionist – this is your chance to get out’; protesters shouting ‘Israel go to hell’ outside an exhibition memorialising those slaughtered by Hamas at the Nova music festival; and the long-running anti-Israel protests at Columbia University. No wonder one leading Jewish magazine is asking whether New York is over for Jews.

The use of the inverted red triangle to target Pasternak’s home is particularly chilling. This symbol is directed at anyone deemed to be pro-Israel or who does not explicitly condemn the Jewish State.

When used by Hamas, the red triangle essentially denotes that someone is being targeted for execution. It first started using this symbol last November in propaganda videos produced in Gaza. In these, the red triangle was marked on Israeli soldiers or armoured vehicles about to be attacked. Since Hamas started promoting the symbol, it quickly began appearing throughout the Arab world, on everything from children’s comic strips to social-media memes. In the latter, it often appears over images of Israeli soldiers or the Star of David.

Now this repulsive glorification of violence against Israeli targets has been adopted by anti-Israel protesters in the West. As the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil-rights group, has noted, students at the New School, Emerson College and New York University ‘have all advertised their [Gaza solidarity] encampments using inverted red-triangle imagery’.

Its use by protesters isn’t confined to America, either. In the German capital, Berlin, it has been seen at both Humboldt University and the Free University of Berlin, and it was also daubed on an Apple Store and other shops. In Britain, the red triangle sign can sometimes be seen on anti-Israel protests and it’s now available to buy as a t-shirt design.

Some will no doubt try to downplay the significance of this red-triangle symbol. They will point to its similarity to the red triangle on the Palestinian flag, in order to suggest it has another, simpler pro-Palestine meaning. But that is disingenuous. Any correspondence between the inverted red triangle of Hamas propaganda videos and the sideways triangle on the Palestine flag is coincidental.

Anyone doubting the threatening intent behind this symbol should see how it is used by anti-Israel protesters whenever they come across peaceful and relatively small pro-Israel counter protests. They will form their fingers into a triangle shape as if they are aiming a weapon at the pro-Israel protesters. This is little more than a coded version of drawing a finger across the throat. It is a threat.

The fact that this sinister symbol is being daubed on Jewish people’s homes ought to be a serious wake-up call.

Daniel Ben-Ami is an author and journalist. He runs the website Radicalism of Fools, dedicated to rethinking anti-Semitism. Follow him on X: @danielbenami

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