I haven’t shied away from writing about topics that have nothing to do with creativity and financial freedom. However, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to say about the attack by Hamas and the subsequent bombardment of the Gaza Strip by the Israelis. I also don’t want to ignore it.
As a former journalist, my instincts sometimes veer towards staying neutral and writing just the facts, but this blog has never been about just the facts. It’s always had my personal viewpoints and what fires me up.
Since most of you reading this are in the creative community, I want to start with the way the nonprofit Creative Community for Peace addressed the situation, writing:
The nightmare that Israelis have feared for decades became a reality as Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israeli cities and towns.
Under the cover of thousands of rockets fired indiscriminately into civilian populations, Hamas murdered and kidnapped innocent men, women, and children. They kidnapped and murdered infants and the elderly. They raped women and mutilated their bodies. They paraded their bodies through the streets and on social media, and cowardly attacked the Supernova Music Festival – bringing death and destruction to an event celebrating friendship and love.
This is terrorism. This is evil. There is no justification or rationalization for Hamas’ actions. These are barbaric acts of terrorism that must be called out by everyone. They are a terrorist organization whose leaders call for the murder of Jews everywhere.
CCFP calls on our friends and colleagues in the entertainment industry to speak out forcefully against Hamas and do whatever is in their power to urge the terrorist organization to return the innocent hostages to their families.
As Israel takes the necessary steps to defend its citizens in the coming days and weeks, social media will be overrun by an orchestrated misinformation campaign spearheaded by Iran. We urge everyone to remember the horrific images that came out of Israel and to not amplify or fall for their propaganda.
Our thoughts are with all those experiencing unfathomable levels of fear and violence, and we hope for the day when Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace.
Over 1000 people in the creative community have signed this letter. This weekend, Pete Davidson addressed it in his opening monologue on SNL:
“I saw so many terrible pictures this week of children's suffering – Israeli children and Palestinian children. And it took me back to a really horrible, horrible place and no one in this world deserves to suffer like that, you know, especially not kids.”
He equated it to 9/11 when he was eight years old and his father died in the attacks.
I’ve thought about this like 9/11 too. It’s helped me to connect to what’s happening on the other side of the world.
During the September 11th attack on the United States, nearly 3000 people died. As of this writing, over 3000 Israelies and Palestinians have died in total.
What is connected to my work as a financial wellness coach is how terrorist attacks are usually funded. Iran is known to be one of Hamas’ biggest financial backers, providing up to $100 million annually to Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad, according to a study done by the U.S. State Department in 2021.
And although it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, I just found out this week that Hamas terrorist groups have more recently gotten a lot of money from everyday people around the world through crypto!
Just in the last week, Israeli officials have seized crypto addresses linked to Hamas and another Palestinian militant group worth tens of millions of dollars, with some fundraising happening publicly on Facebook and X (formerly twitter).
Some idiot in New Jersey pleaded guilty and was charged after posting on Instagram that he “just donated $100 to Hamas.”
In April of this year, Hamas’ military wing announced that it would stop fundraising in bitcoin to protect its donors. But this just means, they’re using other less well known cryptocurrencies. And like pop-up stores or restaurants, Hamas and other terrorist groups use these one-time crypto addresses to collect funds for a limited amount of time, making it harder to track and shut down.
In the last week, Israeli officials froze crypto accounts linked to Hamas, which included Ether, XRP, Tether and others.
While our world has increasingly become more digitally connected, Hamas-linked terrorist groups and global criminal organizations also have a crypto/money laundering exchange in Russia called Garantex that has defied U.S. sanctions by converting rubles to crypto to dollars. Apparently, customers line up with bags of cash.
Now, does this all mean we need to stop buying crypto or use Facebook and X? Social media aside, crypto has its pros and cons and definitely should NOT be the majority of your investment holdings.
I do think cryptocurrency’s initial appeal was that it’s a currency not connected to one particular government, which makes it slightly harder to track and regulate. In fact, Iran has made $8 billion in transactions in Bitcoin to bypass U.S. financial sanctions on the country.
And while some countries, like China, have banned it, other countries, like El Salvador have adopted Bitcoin as its legal currency, in the hopes it would help its economic problems. However, since they did that in 2021, Bitcoin’s price has dropped significantly.
Ukraine has used crypto to raise tens of millions of dollars to fund its military efforts against Russia, and eventually, it wants to rebuild its economy using blockchain technology.
Crypto does also have some climate change implications to consider. Apparently, mining Bitcoin and other blockchain technology requires significant electricity use and is responsible for 0.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. I’m not an expert in all of this, but I bring it up because I always believe that you should spend and invest your money towards your values, and if care of the environment is one of them, then this type of currency may not be part of your portfolio.
Finally, although this past week, we’re all (if you’re someone who’s compassionate and cares about humanity) feeling the collective grief and shock of what’s happening in the middle east, I’ve reminded myself that “action is the antidote to anxiety.”
So, I have personally prayed for an end to the violence and deaths, regulated my own nervous system because we cannot help others when we’re feeling like we’re in survival mode (even if we’re not in reality, our minds don’t know the difference), and researched ways I can help (as mentioned, you don’t want to give money to something that is disguised as humanitarian, and then ending up giving to a terrorist organization).
I like this NPR article, and I’ve chosen one of these organizations to donate my money towards. Besides the fact that helping others is always a good use of our money, again, it’s taking action that helps with our anxiety because we don’t feel as helpless.
With Love, Peace & Gratitude (for so much),