A Major Financial Consultant Is Tacitly Encouraging Its Clients to Boycott Israel

In order to make money while advertising their own moral superiority, many investment firms make a point of seeking to put their clients’ money in concerns that received good marks in “environmental, social, and corporate-governance” (ESG) terms. This means, in practice, that financial-services companies like Morningstar issue ESG ratings—based on the political flavors of the day—that then shape the decisions of investors. Morningstar’s ESG arm has come under fire, and also found itself running afoul of the laws of various states, for considering doing business with Israeli Jews a sign of social irresponsibility. Richard Goldberg comments:

Morningstar [recently] reaffirmed negative ratings for seven Israeli firms due to their operations in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, or their support for Israeli counterterrorism operations. Now it’s up to governors, attorneys general, and treasurers to rid this company of Israel boycotts once and for all.

Spain-based Construcciónes y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) is, [for instance] subject to a human-rights-controversy rating because it builds and operates trams in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. . . . Morningstar said CAF, like Bezeq and B Communications, [to which it gave similar bad ratings], was contributing to the maintenance and expansion of “settlements”—suggesting it is company policy to consider eastern Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, to be an Israeli “settlement” rather than Israel’s capital. Morningstar’s spokesperson also compared CAF helping Israel to expand light-rail access for Israeli-Arabs in Jerusalem to involvement in “rail projects that support Myanmar’s junta as it uses trains to move its troops, arms, and other supplies.”

In all these cases, Morningstar makes no allegation that these companies are involved in any violation of human rights. Instead, the alleged violation is merely providing non-controversial services or infrastructure in specific territory controlled by Israel. . . . This could trigger divestment and contracting bans in certain U.S. states, whose laws consider differential treatment of companies operating in Israeli-controlled territory to be a form of boycott.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: BDS, ESG, Finance

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security