🌊 Grandpa Moon
Moon older than we thought? Chinese beer worker makes splash, and Haniyeh and Netanyahu profiles
According to a new study, Minnesota is the least-stressed state in the country. Minnesotans recorded the lowest levels of money- and family-related stress and the second-most sleep per night, only trailing Colorado. Who would've thought that the state that grumbles “Geez Louise” at peak anger would have such low stress?
Now on a slightly more stressful front, we’re featuring two Wraps in today’s newsletter: A profile on Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This will make today’s newsletter longer than usual, but we want to cover both figures at once.
In today's edition:
Moon older than we thought?
Chinese beer worker makes a splash
Haniyeh and Netanyahu profiles
🔑 Key Stories
Moon’s New Age
An analysis of crystals found on the Moon suggests it is 40M years older than previously thought
Astronomers widely believe the Moon was formed after a Mars-sized planet called Theia collided with Earth. Previous studies have placed its age at 4.42B years, making it ~120M years younger than Earth
Per a study published on Monday, though, the Moon may be 40M years older than previously thought. The researchers analyzed crystals formed just after the Moon’s formation to make that determination
Dr. Philipp Heck, one of the study’s authors, told Roca the revised age is important because it provides a better understanding of the timeline of our planet’s formation
“[The Moon] stabilizes the Earth’s rotational axis, it’s the reason there are 24 hours in a day, it’s the reason we have tides. Without the moon, life on Earth would look different. It’s a part of our natural system that we want to better understand,” Dr. Heck said in a statement
He also called the revised age a “reliable anchor in the timeline of the [Moon’s evolution]”
Average Mortgage 52% Higher Than Monthly Rent
The average US mortgage cost is 52% higher than average monthly rent, per an analysis cited by The Wall Street Journal
Housing prices soared during the pandemic as record-low 30-year mortgage rates contributed to a surge in home sales
As the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates, mortgage rates have more than doubled and existing home sales have plummeted
Per a CBRE analysis cited by The Wall Street Journal, average mortgage rates in the US are now 52% higher than average rent, the highest cost differential since 1996. That means that on average, it is considerably more expensive to buy a house right now than it is to rent
The last time rental prices significantly outpaced mortgage prices was in 2006, when rental prices were 33.4% higher than 30-year mortgages
With the current differential, landlords theoretically have leverage to increase rental rates, although data show that new apartment constructions are outpacing rental demand. That means rental prices may not quickly catch up with the increasing cost of buying homes
Tinder Matchmaker Goes Live
Tinder launched a “Matchmaker” feature that allows family and friends to recommend matches for users
Tinder – the world’s most-used dating app – was launched in 2012. It is owned by Match Group, which also owns Hinge, Match.com, OkCupid, and more
On Monday, Tinder unveiled “Matchmaker,” a feature that allows users to share their accounts with up to 15 people — “matchmakers” — for a 24-hour period. “Matchmakers” can browse through profiles and recommend potential matches, although they cannot actually swipe on or interact with potential matches in any way. After the 24-hour period expires, the account user can view their recommenders’ suggestions
The feature is available in 15 countries, including the US, and will reach other countries in the coming months
“For years, singles have asked their friends to help find their next match on Tinder, and now we’re making that so easy,” Tinder’s chief marketing officer said. “Tinder Matchmaker brings your circle of trust into your dating journey and helps you see the possibilities you might be overlooking from the perspective of those closest to you”
Hamas Releases More Hostages
Hamas released two more hostages as the US is reportedly pressuring Israel not to invade for now
Hamas is holding 222 hostages. On Friday, Hamas released two American hostages for “humanitarian reasons,” although it did not specify what that meant
On Monday, numerous outlets quoted US officials as saying the Biden administration is pressuring Israel to hold off on an invasion for now pending negotiations for more hostage releases
Then on Monday, Hamas released two Israeli women, ages 85 and 79, for “humanitarian reasons and poor health.” On social media app Telegram, Hamas claimed to have handed over the hostages at Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt and cited “Egyptian-Qatari mediation” for facilitating the swap. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which facilitated Friday’s swap, confirmed on X that it had also facilitated Monday’s hostage exchange involving both Israelis
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office released a statement thanking Egypt and the ICRC for facilitating the swap. Israeli officials also noted that the husbands of both of the women are still being held hostage
Also on Monday, Gaza’s Health Ministry announced the death toll in Gaza has exceeded 5,000
The Importance of Internet Safety
Surfshark stops bad actors from tracking and selling your internet activity
Surfshark’s VPN – Virtual Private Network – is an internet browser that prevents websites from tracking your online activity by hiding your location and encrypting your search activity
This helps you secure your data and prevent hacks while using public Wifi
Other benefits of a VPN are the ability to access blocked or censored material and limiting the number of pesky pop-up ads you get
Simply create an account with Surfshark, download their VPN app, log in, and start browsing safely
Millions of people around the world trust Surfshark for real-time online protection. Plus, one subscription can be used on unlimited devices! Surfshark is offering Roca readers early access to their Black Friday Sale with 86% OFF + up to 5 months free!
RIP, Bobi: Bobi – the world’s oldest dog – died at 31. He was a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, which live ~13 years on average
Greta who? Israel’s education ministry said it will remove any references to Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg from its school curriculum following her pro-Gaza post on X
Redoing the Rock: A Paris wax museum announced plans to modify its recently unveiled Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson statue following public criticism and input from Johnson himself
Psychos on a plane: Authorities charged an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot with 83 counts of attempted murder for trying to shut down a plane’s engines mid-flight, leading to an emergency landing
Urine trouble, sir: Chinese police reportedly detained a worker shown on video urinating into a Tsingtao beer factory tank believed to hold raw ingredients
Well…we’ve reached a new low: A judge gave probation and a 10-year suspended sentence to a 20-year-old Iowa woman who faked cancer on social media and raised nearly $40,000
👇 What do you think?
Do you know what a VPN does?
Today’s poll is sponsored by Surfshark, a leading provider of virtual privacy networks (VPNs). Browse the internet like a ghost!
Would you let a family member access your dating app profile? Would you let a friend access your dating app profile?
Reply to this email with your answers!
See yesterday's results below the Wrap!
🌯 Roca Wrap
"Enough is enough.” So declared Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, shortly after his organization began its October 7 massacre of 1,400 Israelis.
Haniyeh was born in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, where, like many Palestinians, his family had fled after being displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. In Gaza, Haniyeh attended United Nations-run schools and studied Arabic literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he became deeply involved with Islamist student groups.
From 1985 to 1986, Haniyeh led his university’s chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic socio-political organization that aims to promote Islamic values and law. He graduated in 1987, just as the First Intifada – a Palestinian uprising against Israel – began.
During that time, a new faction arose within the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian branch: Hamas. While Hamas’ founding charter is explicitly violent and calls for Israel’s destruction, the group was one of the few providers of social, educational, and charitable services in Palestine. Through its opposition to Israel and its social services, it became popular among Palestinians.
Haniyeh’s involvement with Hamas deepened during the Intifada.
Israeli authorities imprisoned him for 18 days for taking part in anti-Israel protests; a year later, Israel jailed him for six months. He was arrested again in 1989 and remained in prison for years until Israel deported him – along with ~400 other Islamists – to southern Lebanon.
After his release, Haniyeh climbed Hamas’ ranks by allying himself with one of Hamas’ founding leaders. Meanwhile, in 1993, Israel established mutual recognition with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a Palestinian organization that claimed to represent all Palestinian people. That laid the groundwork for Palestinian self-rule in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Hamas – whose founding charter claims that “initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time” – rejected negotiations with Israel. In 2000, another Intifada erupted and Haniyeh consolidated his position as one of Hamas’ political leaders. His leadership during the Second Intifada – during which Hamas killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other types of attacks – elevated Haniyeh to a leadership position in Hamas.
During the Intifada, which lasted from 2000 to 2005, Hamas conducted ~40% of anti-Israel suicide bombings – more than any other group. That made it popular among hardline Palestinians and a significant rival to Fatah, the dominant faction in Palestine’s government. The two groups competed for political dominance, and in 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory over Fatah in elections, allowing Haniyeh to form a government and rule as prime minister.
A year later, though, Palestine’s president dismissed Haniyeh after Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in a week of deadly violence. Haniyeh called his dismissal “unconstitutional” and said Hamas “would not abandon its national responsibilities towards the Palestinian people.” Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since but has not hosted elections since its fallout with Fatah.
Hamas’ seizure of Gaza led Israel and Egypt to begin a blockade on Gaza against goods entering Gaza.
Hanieyeh doubled down, enacting Islamic law and ordering rocket attacks against Israel. Many Islamists and others with hardline pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli beliefs rallied around him and Hamas, considering them freedom fighters against Israeli occupation. Others opposed the group’s use of Islamic law, terrorism, and indiscriminate rocket attacks. Such concerns led the United States, EU, and other countries to designate Hamas a terrorist group, and in 2018, the US Department of State designated Haniyeh himself as a terrorist.
Haniyeh remained prime minister of Gaza’s government until 2014, a tenure during which he oversaw multiple wars in which thousands of Palestinians and fewer Israelis died. Many accused Hamas of corruption, alleging they amassed significant wealth by selling favors and taxing goods that entered the territory.
Throughout, Haniyeh and Hamas called the claims against them propaganda intended to discredit their movement. Haniyeh remained a prominent leader and in 2017 was appointed the head of Hamas' political bureau – making him the group’s highest-ranking official and its Supreme Leader.
While Hamas’ charter still calls for Israel’s destruction, some believe Haniyeh has moderated his politics in recent years and become more pragmatic. On several occasions, he said he would accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital. A belief that Haniyeh was softening his positions led Israel to work more with Hamas in recent years, including by allowing more funding into Gaza and thousands of Gazans to work in Israel.
That facade of moderation dissolved on October 7, though, when the group killed 1,400+ Israelis – mostly civilians – and took 200+ hostages. Videos of the group’s brutality against civilians went viral globally. Haniyeh emerged as the attack’s mastermind and released a statement calling the massacre “a great victory and a dazzling triumph.” “Today, Gaza erases from the Arab-Muslim community the shame of defeat,” he said before proceeding to list numerous grievances he alleged Israel has committed against Palestinians.
Many on all sides of the conflict are now asking what Haniyeh’s end goal is.
It is widely believed that Haniyeh knew the October 7 attack would provoke an aggressive reaction, including a likely ground invasion, but he did so anyway. Some believe he ordered the attack to derail the peace process Israel had been negotiating with Saudi Arabia and other Arabic countries; others theorize he believed the attack would draw other groups, such as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, into the fight, possibly igniting a regional war.
As Israel’s bombardment of Gaza enters its third week, Haniyeh is living in Qatar, which has hosted him for years and provides substantial funding to Hamas. Last week, Israel bombed his family’s Gaza home, reportedly killing Haniyeh’s brother, nephew, and 12 others.
For Haniyeh, it is clear that this war was his intention. As for Israel, it is clear that the only future they see is one without Haniyeh.
On August 10, 2004, Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israel’s government not to withdraw its military from the Gaza Strip.
“I am calling on all those who grasp the danger: Gather strength and do the right thing…Don't give the Palestinians guns, don't give them rockets…and don't give them a huge base for terror.”
Nearly 20 years later, Israeli troops are preparing to invade the Strip to destroy Hamas. “Hamas are the new Nazis,” Netanyahu said last week. “The new ISIS. And we have to fight them.”
Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1949. His father was a Polish-born Jew; his mother was born in Ottoman-controlled Jerusalem. The family moved to the US during Netanyahu’s childhood, and he graduated from high school just outside Philadelphia.
Netanyahu returned to Israel at age 18 and spent five years in the army, during which time he served as the captain of an elite commando unit. In 1972, he took a bullet during a raid on a Belgian airliner hijacked by Palestinian militants. He then returned to the US, studied architecture at MIT, and took a job at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), during which time he befriended future Republican politician Mitt Romney.
In 1976, Netanyahu’s brother was killed while leading a raid on a hijacked airliner in Uganda. Netanyahu established an anti-terrorism institute in his honor, became more involved in Israeli politics, and was soon a rising star in Israel’s center-right Likud Party. In 1984, he became Israel’s ambassador to the UN.
In 1993, Netanyahu was elected the Likud Party’s leader. At the time, center-left Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was negotiating the Oslo Accords, a peace deal with the Palestinians intended to lay the groundwork for the “Two-State Solution” – a vision of an independent Israel and Palestine peacefully coexisting.
Netanyahu vocally criticized parts of the deal. In a 1993 op-ed for The New York Times, he called the prospect of an independent Palestine in the West Bank “a mortal threat to Israel” and compared the Oslo Accords to the “appeasement” of Nazi Germany before World War II.
Then in 1995, a Jewish extremist who opposed the Accords assassinated Rabin. His successor then called elections to consolidate support for the peace process, during which Netanyahu ran for Likud under the slogan “Netanyahu – making a safe peace.” A wave of Palestinian suicide bombings just before the election played to Netanyahu’s favor, and in a surprise result, his party won enough votes to make him prime minister. That began 28 years during which Netanyahu would come to dominate Israeli politics.
Netanyahu’s first stint as prime minister, from 1995 to 1999, featured frequent negotiations with the Palestinians. He took a moderate approach toward the Accords, calling for both sides to make concessions. In 1997, he controversially decided to withdraw Israeli troops from parts of a West Bank city. That same year, he ordered a botched assassination attempt on a Hamas leader. That sparked a diplomatic scandal, and Netanyahu lost power two years later.
After a stint during which he served as Israel’s foreign and finance minister, Netanyahu became prime minister for a second time in 2009. Soon after retaking office, he agreed to a 10-month freeze on new settlements – Israeli towns – in the West Bank, which he said would encourage negotiations with Palestinians. He also publicly stated that he would accept a Palestinian state on certain security conditions.
Netanyahu ended up leading Israel for the next 12 years, making him the country’s longest-serving prime minister ever. He oversaw a period during which Israel became one of the world’s wealthiest countries – its per-capita income reached $52,000 in 2021, comparable to Canada or Germany – and during which the frequency of anti-Israel terror attacks plummeted.
Many Israelis criticized his conservative politics, though, and others have accused him of intentionally derailing talks with Palestinians in order to satisfy his further-right supporters. “A Palestinian state will not be created, not like the one people are talking about,” he said in 2019.
In 2016, Israeli authorities began investigating Netanyahu for allegedly providing wealthy businesspeople with favors. By 2021 he faced charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Between alleged corruption and general opposition to his policies, he lost power in 2021 for the first time since 2009.
While some thought Netanyahu’s time had passed, he returned to power just a year later, this time in partnership with Israel’s far-right. Since retaking power, he has overseen the expansion of West Bank settlements and a deterioration of the political situation there. He also tried to pass judicial reforms that sparked some of the largest protests in Israeli history.
Throughout his years as leader, Netanyahu has overseen repeated bombing operations in Gaza and an invasion in 2014; military raids in the West Bank; bombings in Syria; and assassinations, including of Iranian nuclear scientists. He has sought to divide the Palestinian groups to prevent any one from becoming too powerful. In Gaza, he pursued a policy widely known as “mowing the lawn,” in which Israel uses force to prevent Hamas from becoming too powerful while simultaneously preventing a full-scale war.
Netanyahu’s position has long been that acceptance in the Middle East would come through military and economic strength – not from giving concessions to the Palestinians. That strategy appeared to be working: In 2020, Israel reached deals to be recognized by Morocco, Bahrain, and the UAE.
Until this month, Israel was in late negotiations to establish full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, which would have been the country’s biggest recent diplomatic achievement. Then came the October 7 massacre.
The Hamas attack – the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust – led Netanyahu to form a wartime government with parts of the opposition. Many Israelis say this attack was proof of why Israel needs the occupation and an aggressive foreign policy. Others have said the Netanyahu government’s failure to anticipate the attack is his greatest failure yet and called the attack more broadly a symptom of Netanyahu’s failed policies toward the Palestinians.
Nearly 30 years after Netanyahu first took power, what happens in the coming months may define Netanyahu’s legacy.
Will he be remembered as the leader who unified Israel and defeated Hamas, or the one whose government allowed the worst attack in Israeli history?
As hundreds of thousands of Israelis prepare for war, the answer may be forthcoming.
If you have thoughts on either Wrap, let us know at [email protected]!
🌊 Roca Clubhouse
Do you support President Biden’s $105B budget request?
Should voting be mandatory for adults in your country?
Liam from Australia: “Down under we are already compulsory voters, with registered voters fined for not turning up (no fine for donkey voting, it's your right to exercise it how you see fit). Federal and state elections are all compulsory. Democracy in Australia is heading towards the US partisanship with the Liberal party's important Trump-like tactics in the recent referendum on recognising our indigenous people in the constitution. The slogan ‘If you don't know, vote no’ was used in combination with deliberately confusing the public with incorrect information about what the ‘The Voice’ was meant to be. This resulted in mainstream media trying to cover both sides overcompensating bias to incorrect statements. Now we are the only commonwealth country that doesn't recognise its first peoples. Part of our culture is built on mandatory voting, sausage sizzles out the front of primary schools and church halls where we vote and both opposing parties chat before casting votes.”
James: “No, absolutely not. Mandatory voting is just a way of compelling the uninformed or the unengaged to vote in favor of the status quo (and if they won't do it themselves, it provides excellent opportunities for ballot harvesting).”
Mary from Lenexa, Kansas: “Yes, all adults should vote, BUT they first educate themselves on the candidates and the issues, and not through TikTok or Facebook or Insta or any social media but actually learn about the people running for office. Along with that, I would ban political ads, postcards, emails, etc that were paid for by someone who doesn't live in my state.”
Mike: “I apologize for straying from the original question, but as an adjacent question to your question (should voting be mandatory for adults in your country?), I always pose another question to family and friends that I would be curious to see how your audience responds: would you rather have an ill-informed voter or someone recuse themselves from voting? To your initial question, I believe we have a civic duty to vote in free and fair elections, however, I'm always torn by the thought of people voting for, hypothetically, the best looking candidate or swayed by something unsubstantiated they read on social media. I know establishing a baseline for determining an "ill-informed voter" is subjective, hence my back and forth on whether voting should be mandatory. I know this doesn't answer the question, but I feel like most situations aren't as clear as "Yes" or "No" but we always try to boil it down as an either-or option.”
🧠 Final Thoughts
Thanks for sticking around for a longer newsletter today, Roca. We hope you have great Tuesdays, and see you tomorrow!
—Max and Max