The Big Story\nIt finally happened: For the first time since March 30, 2009, someone other than the wily and seemingly indestructible Benjamin Netanyahu is prime minister of Israel—and somehow that someone is Naftali Bennett, whose party didn’t even cross the electoral threshold when Israel’s current bout with political gridlock began in 2019. The proposed new government narrowly passed a vote of confidence in the Knesset yesterday, 60-59, the smallest such mandate in Israel’s history and one vote short of a true majority in the 120-seat house. The session was marred by heckling from far-right MKs and an ungracious valedictory speech from the outgoing PM. It’s anyone’s guess how long this government can last, but for the time being, Israel has a near-reversal of its more than 12-year-old political order. The Haredi parties, the traditional center-right, and much of the far right are in the opposition, while Labor and Meretz, both left for dead not all that long ago, each hold key ministerial portfolios. The Jewish state’s face to the world won’t be Netanyahu—a known quantity and long-standing international player whatever else one may think about him—but centrist foreign minister, alternate prime minister, and former TV presenter Yair Lapid, along with the increasingly paradoxical Bennett, a hard-right former settler leader who quickly reinvented himself as a harbinger of compromise and post-ideological politics. With opposition leader Netanyahu, the ongoing U.S.-led Iran negotiations, an upcoming inflammatory right-wing march through Jerusalem, tensions with the Palestinians, and members of a fairly incoherent coalition already lining up to challenge them, Bennett and Lapid’s honeymoon may already be over. Read about it here: https://www.jpost.com/israel-elections/voting-begins-to-confirm-bennett-as-israels-new-prime-minister-670918The RestMore good news in the fight against the novel coronavirus: A vaccine developed by Maryland-based Novavax is about as effective as the widely used Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and showed notable strength against newer and supposedly worrying variants of the pathogen. Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/novavax-covid-19-vaccine-is-90-effective-in-key-study-11623664800?mod=djemalertNEWS Things are a bit grimmer up north, where the chief of a new libertarian political party was arrested after attending several protests of Canada’s ongoing and extraordinarily strict lockdowns. It’s another sign of how norms around free speech and government intervention in the social and economic space, much different from those prevailing in the neighboring United States, continue to shape the country’s response to the crisis. For more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/maxime-bernier-arrest-leaves-manitoba-montreal-1.6063774 The Supreme Court effectively tabled any consideration of a lawsuit alleging Harvard University discriminated against Asian American applicants, referring the issue back to the Department of Justice. But the move could merely have the effect of delaying a landmark ruling on affirmative action for another year or two, a decision that could have dramatic implications for Asian Americans, Jews, and a host of other groups whenever it comes. Read more: https://www.fox29.com/news/supreme-court-defers-harvard-case-on-race-in-college-admissions A revealing data point about the cultural and political cleavages in the New York metro area, and possibly beyond: In a divisive decision, law enforcement has been banned from marching in uniform in New York City’s annual Pride parade later this month. But head to the suburbs in nearby Long Island, and Pride organizers aren’t just letting gay and lesbian police officers march—in some cases they’re allowing local police departments to set up recruitment tables. Read more: https://www.newsday.com/long-island/gay-pride-parades-police-1.50276346 The union for the City University of New York, one of the largest public-sector employers in a city where the plurality of the world’s Jews live and an institution spanning 25 campuses with more than 275,000 students across the five boroughs, passed a resolution condemning an alleged “massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli state” along with Israel’s “expansionism and violent incursions into occupied territories.” Read more: \nhttps://nypost.com/2021/06/13/cuny-professors-union-rebukes-israel-in-pro-palestinian-resolution/Elsewhere in organized labor among the educated professional class, The New York Times goes deep on the increasingly public dispute with management at the rival New Yorker. Per reporter Ben Smith, a now three-year-old unionization drive effectively split the magazine’s star writers, resulted in a couple of clear gains for labor, brought staff to the brink of a collective bargaining agreement with their bosses, and also brought staff to the brink of what would be a historic and deeply embarrassing strike. It’s as mixed a picture as anything else in the media industry these days. Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/13/business/media/new-yorker-union.html\n\nCould the Biden administration be testing the waters for détente with Bashar al-Assad’s regime, perhaps as part of a larger agreement with Assad’s Iranian patrons? Quietly and without any official explanation, the United States has lifted sanctions on two Dubai-based companies controlled by Samer Foz, a businessman who has been under U.S. sanctions since 2019 for his financial and operational support of the Syrian dictator. Read more: https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2021/06/11/biden-lifts-sanctions-key-assad-backer/ E-scooters are a menace on roads and sidewalks across the United States. But what does Halacha have to say about them? Find out here: https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/1982726/e-scooters-a-halachic-analysis.html The latest sign of the glaring contradictions necessary for the Tokyo Olympics to occur next month: Organizers plan on giving away 150,000 condoms at the games—pretty standard for an event that brings together thousands of the world’s fittest and most beautiful and most accomplished young people. But this year’s Olympic condom handout strongly implies that organizers don’t really expect the athletes to follow the games’ supposedly strict social-distancing protocols, which are a condition for them happening in the first place. Read more: https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/take-your-condoms-home-social-distancing-sex-olympic-village-2021-06-14/The Back PagesNaftali Bennett is now Israel’s 13th prime minister, but yesterday was really Yair Lapid’s triumph. The Yesh Atid party boss and former TV personality proved everyone wrong. Once dismissed as a passing fad, often derided as lacking the intellect, the imagination, and the sheer ruthlessness to contend with his rivals in the Israeli political scene, Lapid succeeded where more straitlaced and traditionally credentialed figures such as Isaac Herzog and Benny Gantz failed: He cobbled together a government that finally toppled Benjamin Netanyahu, even if Lapid won’t be in charge of it until Bennett’s turn in an agreed rotation ends in two years. Lapid did it while marginalizing the right-wing Avigdor Lieberman—the vice boogeyman of Israeli politics, second only to Netanyahu—exiling the Haredi parties from power, elevating Israel’s moderates and even its nearly defeated peace camp, and offering an unprecedented degree of political participation to the country’s Arab Muslims. It’s worth reading over details of the new government’s reported coalition agreement. If half of the things Lapid negotiated come to pass—such as an investigation into the Meron disaster, a pluralistic prayer space at the Kotel, a massive leap in assistance to Israel’s Arab communities, and reforms to both the rabbinic authorities and the country’s notoriously corrupt kashrut system—he’ll go down as the second-most consequential Israeli politician of his era, even if he never actually gets to be prime minister.\n\nLapid had a chance to speak at yesterday’s Knesset session, right before the new government was formally elected. There was frequent heckling from angry MKs all afternoon—it turns out Netanyahu and company aren’t the most gracious of losers. Instead of boasting over his accomplishment or making grandiose promises about the future or otherwise reveling in maybe the defining moment of his entire life—an event of potential historic importance that he personally engineered—Lapid junked his planned remarks and gave only a brief address, a stunningly elegant kiss-off incorporating themes of democracy, community, t’shuvah, mishpacha, kavod, and shalom bayit.\n\nPulpit rabbis take note: It was short enough to fit in a single iPhone notes screenshot, tweeted out by Israel-based journalist Noga Tarnopolsky. Here it is in full:\nMr. Speaker, Knesset members:\n\nI’m skipping the speech I planned to deliver today because I’m here to say one thing—to ask forgiveness from my mother.\n\nMy mother is 86 years old, and we don’t ask her to come to Jerusalem lightly, but we did it because I assumed that you would be able to get over yourselves and behave with statesmanship at this moment and she would see a smooth transition of government.\n\nWhen she was born, there was no State of Israel, Tel Aviv was a small town of 30,000 people, and we didn’t have a parliament. I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel. Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it’s time to replace you.\n\nThank you.