1/ My essay "Can Bitcoin be Palestine's Currency of Freedom?" is now live.

I spoke to Palestinians to learn how they are using Bitcoin as a peaceful protest to overcome staggering financial barriers 🇵🇸 ⚡

My chat with a user in Gaza blew my mind 🧵:

2/ Uqab spoke to me from Rafah, the scene of yet another wave of IDF bombings in May. Gaza faces civilizational collapse. 1 out of 2 live in poverty. Half are unemployed. 80% depend on handouts. Investment is gone. Capital stock is destroyed. There is very little hope left.
3/ Gazans may be physically trapped + economically cut off from the world, but Uqab said Bitcoin gave him freedom, calling it “a checkpoint that’s always open.”

“With Bitcoin, we’re getting on with our lives,” he said. “Inshallah, more Palestinians will discover this technology"
4/ Palestinian political suffering — trapped by Israeli military occupation, Hamas’s terror tactics, the corrupt PA, and a largely uncaring world — is well-known.

But their monetary and economic situation goes untold, even though money is at the very root of their struggles.
5/ To learn more, I spoke to @alaatartir, a Palestinian political economist who walked me through his country's financial history.

Over the past 50 years, Palestinians have become deeply dependent on the outside world, yet isolated at the same time.
6/ Israeli policy was designed to make Palestinians dependent on Israeli imports, unable to build their own capital stock, sinking deeper into a consumerist society. Meanwhile the PA siphoned off aid and other revenue to enrich itself, leaving the average Palestinian in the cold.
7/ In April 1994 PLO and Israeli delegates met in France to sign a rarely-discussed document called the “Protocol On Economic Relations,” also known as the “Paris Protocol.”

This document, meant to be temporary, still controls the economic fate of Palestinians today.
8/ What was pitched as a step towards Palestinian independence was really a set of rules which increased Palestinian dependence on foreign aid and the Israeli economy.

Individual freedom and economic sovereignty were sacrificed by Arafat and his cronies for personal gain.
9/ Israel would control Palestinian monetary policy and its banking system. The INS would be mandatory legal tender.

The impact of the Paris Protocol can be seen in one simple yet shocking statistic: Palestine’s manufacturing sector declined from 19% to 10% from 1994 to 2011.
10/ According to Tartir, “Palestinians have been forced to live in an aid-development paradox: large amounts of aid associated with a downward decline in socioeconomic and human development indicators. In cases like Gaza, those declines have been dystopian.”
11/ The legacy of corruption at the PA makes it worse. Arafat was worth billions when he died. Fadi @Elsalameen argues that Abbas-in power since 2006-has carried on the tradition. Ongoing protests in the West Bank are centered on Abbas's looting of funds and crushing of dissent.
12/ I spoke to a former Palestinian banker living in Ramallah named Abuwedad who told me banking reforms since 2007 have "prioritized consumerism over independence" and have funneled easy money to Palestinians to buy things but not invest in their future.
13/ He said what's worse is that they have no PayPal or Venmo. Receiving money from abroad is time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes impossible.

So he quit the banking industry and became a Bitcoiner.

He told me that more Palestinians opt into Bitcoin every day.
14/ They do it through Telegram or FB groups, or through first buying Tether on Binance. In the West Bank he said you can't buy BTC directly through the banking system, only Tether.

He knows this isn't ideal. But Lightning and stabilized Lightning accounts could change things.
15/ At the end of our call I sent him $5 from Boston to Ramallah via @MuunWallet via Lightning. The payment went through instantly, with no fees.

There were no checkpoints, no red flags, no delays. Neither the Israelis nor the PA took a cut. He thought it was magical.
16/ I spoke to Kefah Abukhdeir, an educator based in West Jerusalem who wants to help Palestinians create a "resistance economy" through Bitcoin.

“Independence is financial,” she told me. “If we don’t have financial freedom, nothing is going to change.”
17/ Tech is important, she said, "because we need a plan that does not require raw resources. We can’t own land, we can’t manufacture — so what can we do?”

"If we don’t opt out of the Israeli currency," she said, "we just strengthen the system."
18/ I also spoke to several people in the Israeli Bitcoin community, who seemed positive about the idea of helping Palestinians through Bitcoin.

“It’s not fake freedom,” one said, “like the kind we have tried to give before.”
19/ I even spoke to a settler. When the Oslo process began in 1993, there were a little more than 100,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, not counting East Jerusalem.

Today, there are more than 475,000. Jonathan Caras is one of them.
20/ Even though his actions are seemingly at odds with Palestinian freedom, Caras understands the power dynamic in paying people in shekels. Which is why he offers to pay in Bitcoin, which he believes will outlast the Central Bank of Israel. He believes fiat currency is immoral.
21/ I also spoke to Adam Albarghouthi, who is fundraising to help grow Palestinian agricultural self-sufficiency. He says Palestinians are import dependent and that they need to produce their own food. He thinks Bitcoin could help his team raise funds in a restrictive environment
22/ In sum, it seems clear that the Israeli government will demonize Bitcoin. They have tried to centralize control over all money flowing into/out of the West Bank and Gaza. Bitcoin disrupts this monopoly. So they will likely attack it -- but it could be a huge empowerment tool.
23/ More than 2/3rds of Palestinians are under the age of 30, and more than 70% have internet access. It could be just a matter of time.

As fate would have it, the first world leader to adopt Bitcoin @nayibbukele is Palestinian, with family coming from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
24/ The economic reforms on the table today will only increase Israeli and PA control over the people.

A Palestinian CBDC could destroy the informal economy and the small freedoms Palestinians do have with cash.

Bitcoin adoption will have to come from a people power movement.
25/ What's certain is that Palestinians will continue to adopt Bitcoin.

But it remains unclear if their supporters around the world will help them in this regard.

It is depressing to see silence on Bitcoin from the major human rights groups.
26/ What does posting #FreePalestine really achieve? It might just be virtue signaling.

But by helping someone understand how to use Bitcoin, one can help them achieve a degree of real freedom: the ability to protect value from confiscation + to connect with anyone in the world.
27/ In my essay I quoted the work of Sarah Roy. One thing she said stuck with me: "knowledge production is itself a form of resistance"

So if you really want to extend a hand to help people in need, not just in Palestine but anywhere, consider helping them understand Bitcoin.
28/ Back in Gaza, Uqab is seeing people sell their homes for BTC. Real estate is going to 0, he said, so worst case, it's status quo. But best case? "A door to freedom"

“I’m saving up for my kids,” he said, right before we hung up. “Bitcoin is going to be my ticket out of here"
29/ Writing this article really changed my perspective on a lot of things.

The big lesson: regardless of our debates on Twitter, Bitcoin is out there kicking ass and helping so many people right now.

To learn more, read the full story:


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More from @gladstein

13 Jul
1/ This chart from a 2014 @BichlerNitzan paper is mind-blowing.

Grey bars show when the "Petro-Core" (BP/Chevron/Exxon/Mobile/Shell) beat the Fortune 500, black bars show poor performance.

The explosion symbols are outbreaks of war in the Middle East.

2/ As the authors note, periods of poor "Petro-Core" performance are *predictive* of Middle East conflict.

"Every energy conflict save one was preceded by the Petro-Core trailing the average" - in other words: oil giants have to "differentially decumulate" for conflict to erupt.
3/ Every energy conflict was followed by the oil companies beating the Fortune 500 average.

War and conflict in the region, usually blamed for undermining the regional economy, "have served the interest of the large oil companies at the expense of leading non-oil firms"
Read 11 tweets
4 Jul
1/ My essay "Bitcoin and the American Idea" is now live.

🇺🇸 was born 245 years ago but strayed from its founding ideals.

Can Bitcoin help it get back on track?

An African American activist (@bitcoinzay) and an Iraqi refugee (@faisalalmutar) say yes 🧵

2/ On July 4, 1776, the Founding Fathers declared independence from the British Empire.

It was a bold and risky action.

Never before had a colonial state defeated its overload, especially one at the apex of its global power.

But America won.
3/ Today is still a cause for celebration across the US and beyond.

The values enshrined in the Declaration of Independence continue to animate resistance struggles worldwide.

But for many, July 4th seems like a hollow festival.

American history has betrayed the American idea.
Read 25 tweets
1 Jul
1/ It's worth repeating that 1.3 billion suffer under double or triple digit inflation.

This is a humanitarian crisis greater than (but not unrelated to) the lack of access to clean drinking water (785M) or extreme poverty (689M).

But it is ignored by global policymakers 🧵
2/ The following terms are not mentioned in the 10,000+ word manifesto of the 17 @UN Sustainable Development goals:

-Free Expression

Neither is inflation, which didn't deserve mention by the governments who wrote this document.
3/ The massive social damage that high or extreme inflation inflicts on citizens everywhere from Argentina to Turkey to Iran to Ethiopia to Nigeria wasn't on the "Davos Agenda" this year, last year, or the year before.

It's almost as if they don't want to talk about it.
Read 8 tweets
23 Jun
1/ My essay "Fighting Monetary Colonialism with Open Source Code" is live.

France controls 15 African nations and 180M+ people through the CFA franc currency. The details are shocking.

Can Bitcoin be a way out?

@Farida_N 🇹🇬 + @diopfode 🇸🇳 think so 🧵

2/ It begins after WWII, when the French empire started loosing chunks of colonial territory. Indochina, the Levant, North Africa... but they refused to let go of West + Central Africa. After 1960, political colonialism was unacceptable, so they settled for monetary colonialism.
3/ The primary tool of monetary colonialism was the CFA franc, first introduced in 1945. By 1948, each CFA franc was worth 2 French francs. But by the time the CFA franc was pegged to the euro in the late 1990s, it was worth .01 French francs: a total devaluation of 19,900%
Read 25 tweets
11 Jun
1/ Bitcoin is a powerful tool for human rights.

What is happening in El Salvador will have a huge impact on the lives of people there and across the world.

A nation adopting Bitcoin is a big step forward for global human freedom.

But that's not the full story 🧵
2/ It is important to separate appreciation for this historic milestone, and celebration for the march of open source technology, with any such appreciation or worship of the president of El Salvador.

In Bitcoin we don't trust, we verify. That approach is needed more than ever.
3/ Today I spoke to a Salvadoran lawyer and law school teacher. She is representative of many Salvadorans, living in the capital with family in the country.

Many of her students do not have internet access. The last year has been very hard on them.
Read 27 tweets
26 May
1/ My latest essay is live:

"The Humanitarian and Environmental Case for Bitcoin"

Could Bitcoin reduce "middleman" corruption in aid, bootstrap electrification via untapped renewables, and help developing nations end dependency on foreign powers?


2/ Helping those less fortunate is noble.

Since the 1960s, more than $4 trillion has been sent from rich countries to poor countries in what is now a $200 billion foreign aid industry.

But does humanitarianism sometimes help create the hardship it is supposed to solve?
3/ Three of aid's major flaws:

-Much of it is skimmed off along the way, or ends up propping up dictators
-Aid creates dependency + discourages economic independence
-Donors rarely help nations become *energy* independent, as renewable farms aren't quickly sustainable/profitable
Read 22 tweets

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