Required Reading

‣ Reporting for New Lines Magazine, Matthew Petti finds out that a fanatical Israel settlement is being funded by suburbanites on Long Island:

A lot of money is at stake. An investigation by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz found that the settlements received $220 million in total from American charities from 2009 to 2013. Americans have donated millions more to settlements, settler militias and Israeli army units in the Palestinian territories since Oct. 7 through a platform called IsraelGives, according to The Guardian.

The donors to Israeli settlements include both Jewish and Christian Zionist organizations, with the latter subscribing to the belief that the State of Israel is fulfilling biblical prophecies about the Holy Land. Because these groups are considered nonprofit nongovernmental organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code, Americans receive a tax break for the money they give to the settlement charities. (While many American diaspora groups have raised money for militant foreign causes, doing so through legal charities is rarer; several American nonprofits also provide Ukrainian fighters with drones, protective gear and training classes.) Mamdani’s bill seeks to take the subsidy away from donors to the settlements.

‣ A right-wing Canadian family moved to Russia because of the pro-LGBTQ+ policies of Canada, and then they encountered problems in Russia. John Russell of LGBTQ+ Nation reports:

In an interview with Russian state media earlier this month, Arend again made his reasons for relocating his family clear. “Canada’s not the same country it used to be, and we didn’t feel safe for our children there in the future anymore,” he said. “There’s a lot of left-wing ideology, LGBTQ, trans, just a lot of things that we don’t agree with that they teach there now, and we wanted to get away from that for our children.”

The Feenstras should feel right at home in Russia. Beginning in 2013 with the passage of legislation banning so-called “gay propaganda” in the presence of children, Russia has been steadily increasing political hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community. In 2022, the law was expanded to effectively outlaw all public expressions of support for LGBTQ+ people, and last year, at the behest of Putin’s Ministry of Justice, the Russian Supreme Court declared the “international LGBT social movement” an “extremist organization.”

It appears, however, that the Feenstras were unprepared for everything their move would entail. Shortly after arriving in Russia, they were informed that their new Russian bank account had been frozen. In a February 8 video, Arend explained that he’d been informed that the family had run afoul of a Russian banking law requiring them to prove where the funds they’d deposited came from. In addition to money from the sale of their farm and other assets, the Feenstras also deposited a substantial sum they made via donations from supporters of their YouTube channel, with no documentation as to the source of that money.

‣ Oh, no … tooth fairy payments to kids in the US have dropped for the first time in five years! Kelly Tyko of Axios reports:

The tooth fairy’s national average gift value for a single lost tooth dropped 6% to $5.84 from $6.23 last year, according to a Delta Dental survey.

It’s still the second highest value for a lost tooth and a 349% increase from 1998 when a lost tooth fetched $1.30 on average.

‣ Met Museum curator of Byzantine art, Andrea Myers Achi, walks us through the Africa & Byzantium exhibition at the Fifth Avenue institution:

YouTube video

‣ Critic Skye Arundhati Thomas considers music and film’s role in Hindu nationalism for the London Review of Books:

A video circulating on social media shows the razed Great Omari Mosque in Gaza, its central dome cracked open, with the caption ‘cheap copy’. Cut to Ayodhya in 1992, Hindu men with sledgehammers on the main cupola of the Babri Mosque, and the caption changes to ‘masterpiece’. For a brief second in between there’s the flash of a yellow bulldozer. When in 2022 the New Delhi government began unwarranted demolitions in Muslim neighbourhoods – bringing bulldozers to tear down shops and homes – an anchor from the national news channel Aaj Tak climbed into the driver’s seat of one machine: ‘You are now watching live,’ he said, ‘as the crane destroys an illegal construction.’ The demolitions continue. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, has been affectionately nicknamed ‘Bulldozer Babu’. There’s a hit song that simply repeats the words ‘long live Bulldozer Baba’ for three minutes.

‣ A 16-year-old nonbinary Choctaw student was killed after being attacked at their Oklahoma high school, which failed to alert the police or call an ambulance. Amid rising anti-trans legislation and political organizing, Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling reports for the New Republic:

Tragically, it’s not the first time that Owasso has punished one of its LGBTQ+ members. In April 2022, one of Benedict’s teachers at Owasso High School, Tyler Wrynn, was featured in a video by Libs of TikTok, a far-right account run by professional agitator Chaya Raichik whose other posts have led to multiple bomb threats across Oklahoma. In the clip, Wrynn told his students that he was proud of them and encouraged them to love themselves despite outside pressures, adding that “if your parents don’t accept you for who you are, fuck them.” Following Raichik’s post, Wrynn became the subject of harassment and death threats and, after fiery local backlash, resigned from the district—much to the disappointment of Benedict.

“Nex was very angry about it,” their mother told The Independent.

‣ “Funny” trauma stories are trending this week on TikTok, here are two worth sharing:

‣ And another one:

‣ An enslaved African from the 19th century US shows up in 2024, and @BruceRants will take it from there:

‣ Josh Gondelman has a pretty good joke about dating someone who later tells you they’re trans:

‣ Do you know what a sugar twink is?

‣ The radicalized history of a certain chocolate treat, by @human.1011:

‣ Over at TikTok, Oludara Adeeyo has some thoughts about Frida Kahlo and her relationship with her Indigenous heritage:

‣ TMZ scored footage of an Amazon van being cut in half by a fast-moving train back in 2021, and the video is unbelievable:

YouTube video

‣ Porn star Noah explains all the potential reasons you might have a beef with a fellow porn star as another actor in the industry:

‣ Asking random people if they’re a couple:

‣ Louisiana humor:

‣ TikTok was on fire this week with the 50-post breakup story and well, someone finally summarized it clearly for those of us who have no time:

‣ @noneisntoff offer a take on what is brewing in the Jewish-American community recently around criticism of Zionism:

‣ A really good look at Giuseppe Militano’s float, made in 1900, that is still carried by 200 volunteers, known as “mbuttaturi,” for the Varia di Palmi in Palmi, Italy. The Roman Catholic festival takes place each year at the end of August:

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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