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OPINION: 75 Years On, the Dead End of Palestinian Grievance

Nov. 29 will mark 75 years since United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which endorsed the establishment of neighboring Jewish and Arab states in the Holy Land. 

One of the U.N.’s most significant decisions, it helped restore a sovereign country for Jews in the ancestral land from which they were exiled by the Romans, who renamed the territory Syria Palaestina. 

For Palestinian Arabs, the plan offered something even more groundbreaking: the creation of a Palestinian country for the first time.

But it is only Israelis who will soon celebrate the 75th anniversary of their country’s birth–and its hard-won success. Palestinian leaders will do what they’ve always done: bemoaning the deferral of Palestinian nationalism’s stated primary objective and incriminating Israel in it. 

Often, this incrimination takes the form of delegitimization – by presenting Israel as a foreign, “colonial” entity and by vilifying Israel as evil.

Palestinian advocates frequently promote a map showing Israel’s share of the land expanding from 1948 until today, while Palestinians’ has diminished. The message is clear: Zionist territorial gluttony is boundless – and Palestinians are nothing but dispossessed underdogs.

Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Palestinian activists, now with the help of an automatic U.N. majority maintained by nearly 60 Arab and Muslim governments, have perfected the craft of political polemicizing.

Beyond the decades and centuries omitted from Palestinians’ visual synopsis of Israeli-Palestinian history is all that it obscures even during the period it highlights. 

After all, it was the Zionists who, in 1947, embraced Resolution 181’s two-state vision–even with Jews offered but a small fraction of their small homeland, and no share in its beating heart, Jerusalem. 

The Arab side refused and fought repeated wars to eliminate Israel–gradually losing territory in the process.

Arab governments declined to establish a Palestinian state even when they fully controlled the West Bank and Gaza Strip from 1949 until 1967. The Palestine Liberation Organization was founded with a charter plotting Israel’s total destruction.

In 1967, the Arab League declared, “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

It was Palestinians who in the 1980s launched the first violent “intifada” against Israel and sparked Israeli-Lebanese warfare by attacking Israel from Lebanon.

Fanatic Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad – proxies of Iran, which pledges “death to America, death to Israel” – sought to undermine reconciliation with waves of suicide bombings in the 1990s. The atrocities came following the Oslo Accords, which afforded almost all Palestinians self-rule.

At talks at Camp David in 2000, a dovish Israeli government extended an unprecedented offer of Palestinian statehood in nearly all the so-called “occupied territories” – compromising even on Jerusalem and Judaism’s single holiest site, the Temple Mount. 

Palestinians balked–causing then-President Bill Clinton to tell PLO leader Yasser Arafat, “I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one”–and began an even deadlier intifada.

Later, in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initiated a complete, unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, including every single Jewish settlement community. Within months, Hamas violently seized the territory and escalated incessant terrorism from it.

In 2008, Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, went even further than the Camp David proposals. 

Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s replacement, declined to accept or even make a counteroffer. 

Instead, Abbas has given speeches maligning Israel as an “apartheid” state and explicitly tried to “internationalize” the conflict by weaponizing U.N. bodies against Israel.

He has also invented a way for Palestinians to have their cake and eat it too, by having the U.N. recognize in 2012 a not-yet-existent “State of Palestine” even as Palestinians evade all the responsibilities of a state by asserting they remain wholly under occupation. 

Palestinian rulers endemically glorify violence against Jews but Abbas insists that Israel–with its two million Arab citizens–is “racist.” 

He also decries the failure of Resolution 181 to deliver Palestinian statehood while continuing to reject the critical other half of the resolution’s program: Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

Abbas claims that Israel’s Jewish identity makes it inherently discriminatory. He has expressed no similar concerns about the dozens of countries whose flag features a crescent or a cross.

In 1947, two years after the Holocaust, desperate but visionary Jews grasped a modest opening for a better future and made something of it, building a thriving, democratic state despite all odds–and peace with multiple Arab and Muslim countries. 

This Nov. 29, the U.N. will mark its annual day of solidarity with Palestinians – the only such day for a particular people–and Palestinian representatives will again rue the lot of their constituency. 

If that lot is to change, Palestinians’ approach must too. Seventy-five years of grievance, aggression, and maximalism have yielded little. 

Over the next 75 years, a path of compromise and cooperation can reap far greater dividends. We’ve seen Israel do it.

But are Palestinian leaders interested?

SAUNDERS: China Is the Antithesis to ESG Love Affair

The pushback against Environmental, Social and Governance has begun. It’s coming from market influencers like Vivek Ramaswamy, cultural influencers like Dilbert creator Scott Adams lambasting it in his (banned) comic strips, and 19 Republican governors going after the banks that push it. It’s a good thing.

Washington and Wall Street want to save the planet, much of it choking on Chinese coal dust. Its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies, particularly the Security and Exchange Commission’s ESG policy proposal for investors, pretend China exists on another planet. Big business and big investment houses wouldn’t have it any other way. They’ll punish the locals for not being environmentally sound. But China can throw chemicals down a river and burn a thousand suns, and it’s OK.

Adherence to ESG rules would make it more expensive to do business in the United States. It is another bad idea that will further drive manufacturing away from the United States and into Asia, led by China.

The SEC is not alone.

An ESG bill passed the House of Representatives in 2021. Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters said, “It’s past time Congress makes ESG requirements explicit.” There are two ways to interpret that. One: make sure investment products and companies declaring to be ESG have the same metrics. Two: ensure companies comply with climate policies to keep them ESG-friendly. Both are valid points if ESG policies are mandated by the SEC or Congress. That bill is now in a Senate committee. It will likely die there.

ESG is a U.N. endeavor that became an investment product. It’s big in Europe. The idea is that portfolio managers and lenders will direct capital to companies that are easy on the environment, hire women and minorities, and are good corporate stewards of the communities they serve. As a standalone, no one is against this idea or real, quality metrics that provide transparency to ESG investors.

But ESG has moved away from being just an investment product. It’s political now. Democrats fully embrace ESG. Republicans, not so much. Significant “woke capital,” as Ramaswamy calls them, loves ESG.

Shareholders can weaponize information from where a company’s electric power comes from to how much fertilizer the local rancher was selling beef to Cargill is using, all to pressure a business based on climate risk or other social causes packaged as environmental justice. Compliance requires costly lawyers who understand the rules. Business leaders then need to shift gears to ensure they are not running afoul of the climate police — which includes global bankers like Rabobank and asset managers like BlackRock that threaten to take their bank loans and investments elsewhere.

The proposed SEC rule will not only define ESG standards but it will also require publicly traded companies to comply with lowering greenhouse gas emissions or risk losing their lenders. This also affects private companies that sell to publicly traded ones. “Not green enough? Sorry, we need to find a greener partner.”

It’s everywhere. The Department of Labor is proposing new rules on pension plans that will require ESG investments as a matter of fiduciary duty.

ESG is voluntary for now. Democrats want to legislate its permanence. They are easily sold on ESG as good for the planet. Big lenders see it as corporate uniformity, doing “good,” and risk reduction. But if implemented, the SEC proposal will be a mega headwind for the United States as greenhouse gas emissions become a costly investment risk — despite the U.S. being a leader in reducing greenhouse gases and environmental standards.

None of these climate policies exist in application anywhere in China.

Picture this: a U.S. mutual fund with an ESG focus invests in Chinese solar companies and supply chains. Chinese polysilicon maker Daqo New Energy trades on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s in climate-change-themed funds, which are total ESG plays. Daqo was placed on the Commerce Department’s Entity List in 2021 for forced labor. So? BlackRock, Templeton, PIMCO, Fidelity, Vanguard, Morgan Stanley and State Street own 13 million shares. Americans who own the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF own Daqo, which probably uses Muslim prison labor.

ESG was designed to be voluntary. Now its strictest adherents, which include major Wall Street investors and lenders, want it to be mandated. Meanwhile, the usual hypocrites at global companies who are ESG fans will continue sourcing from China, where widgets are made thanks largely to coal-fired power plants. Those are bad here. Not ESG enough. But weak environmental rules and no women in power anywhere, that is perfectly fine in China.

No U.S. company should be forced to follow a climate policy its biggest rival can ignore. ESG must remain an optional investment product, not an investment policy.

LOMBORG: The Fuzzy Math Behind U.N. Report on Global Disasters

A new U.N. report has revealed the disturbing news that the number of global disasters has quintupled since 1970 and will increase by 40 percent in coming decades. It finds that more people are affected by disasters than ever before, and the U.N. deputy secretary general warns humanity is “on a spiral of self-destruction.”

Astonishingly, the United Nations is misusing data, and its approach has been repeatedly shown to be wrong. Its finding makes for great headlines — but it just isn’t grounded in evidence.

When the U.N. analyzed the number of disaster events, it made a basic error — and one that I’ve called it out for making before: It basically counted all the catastrophes recorded by the most respected international disaster database, showed that they were increasing and then suggested that the planet must be doomed.

The problem is that the documentation of all types of disasters in the 1970s was far patchier than it is today, when anyone with a cellphone can immediately share news of a storm or flood from halfway around the world.

That’s why the disaster database’s own experts explicitly warn amateurs not to conclude that an increase in registered disasters equates to more disasters. Reaching such a conclusion “would be incorrect” because the increase really just shows improvements in recording.

You would think that the United Nations would know better, especially when its top bureaucrats use language that sounds like Armageddon is here.

Unsurprisingly, climate change is central to the U.N. agency’s narrative. Its report warns there is a risk of more extreme weather disasters because of global warming, so the acceleration of “climate action” is urgently needed. Somehow, the huge international organization has made the same basic fallacy that many of us do when we see more and more weather disasters aired on the TV news. Just because the world is more connected and we see more catastrophic events in our media doesn’t mean that climate change is making them more damaging.

So how do we robustly measure whether weather disasters really have become worse? The best approach is not to count the catastrophes, but to look instead at deaths. Significant losses of life have been registered pretty consistently over the past century.

This data show that climate-related events — floods, droughts, storms, fires and temperature extremes — are not actually killing more people. Deaths have dropped by a huge amount: In the 1920s, almost half a million people were killed by climate-related disasters. In 2021, it was fewer than 7,000 people. Climate-related disasters killed 99 percent fewer people than 100 years earlier.

The U.N. report does include a count of “global disaster-related mortality” — and manages to find that, contrary to the international disaster database, deaths are higher than ever before. They reach this conclusion by bizarrely including the deaths from COVID in the catastrophes. Remember, COVID killed more people just in 2020 than all the world’s other catastrophes in the past half century.

Lumping these in with deaths from hurricanes and floods inappropriately seems designed to create headlines rather than understanding, especially when the agency is using the findings to argue for an acceleration of climate action.

The truth is that deaths from climate disasters have fallen dramatically because wealthier countries are much better at protecting citizens. Research shows this phenomenon consistently across almost all catastrophes, including storms, floods, cold and heat waves.

This matters because by the end of this century there will be more people in harm’s way, and climate change will mean sea levels rise several feet.

One comprehensive study shows that at the beginning of the 21st century, around 3.4 million people experienced coastal flooding each year, causing $11 billion in annual damages. About $13 billion, or 0.05 percent, of global GDP was spent on coastal defenses.

If we do nothing and just keep coastal defenses as they are today, vast areas of the planet will be routinely inundated by 2100, with 187 million people flooded and damage worth $55 trillion annually. That’s more than 5 percent of global GDP.

But we will obviously adapt, especially because the cost is so low. That means fewer people than ever will be flooded by 2100. Even the combined cost of adaptation and climate damages will decrease to just 0.008 percent of GDP.

These facts show why it’s important that organizations like the United Nations deliver us the real picture on disasters. The U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has bad form for making unfounded claims. Instead of headline-chasing with dodgy math and frightening language, the U.N. should do better — and it should be focused on championing the importance of innovation and adaptation to save more lives.

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