The Big StoryToday is the final day of campaigning in perhaps the most important U.S. electoral contest of 2021, the Democratic mayoral primary in New York. All four front-runners have a viable path to victory, though Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has a comfortable lead on Andrew Yang, former sanitation commissioner and New York Times-endorsed technocrat Kathryn Garcia, and de Blasio lawyer turned professional activist and progressive alternative Maya Wiley.\n\nThe safe money is on Adams, a longtime NYPD officer who has unapologetically seized the race’s law-and-order lane, building up sizable leads among working-class Black and Hispanic voters despite a late-breaking residency scandal that no one seems to actually care about. Wiley appeals to the upper-middle- and upper-class educated whites and segments of the city’s Black community who elected Bill de Blasio, though unlike the present mayor, she has no real support from the city’s Orthodox Jews, who are breaking heavily for Yang, with a significant minority lining up behind Adams. Buoyed by support from Jews, Asian Americans, and moderate whites, Yang held the early lead in the race before dropping to his current fourth place in polling, as Adams found his footing and Yang’s lack of knowledge and experience were gradually exposed. Yang’s last-second gambit has been to urge his supporters to place Kathryn Garcia second under the city’s new ranked-choice voting system, in hopes that Garcia’s supporters would in turn rank him second. Garcia is running as a nonideological and almost deliberately unexciting public servant, touting a record of competence and an intimate knowledge of how municipal government does and doesn’t work. She’s exactly the kind of candidate who doesn’t usually win in a city that’s easily taken in by big personalities, but maybe that race-shifting New York Times endorsement will help change all that. At least one thing hasn’t changed: Big-dollar donors are having a huge impact, with an estimated $16 million in super PAC donations—coming from just 14 billionaires—accounting for 20% of all campaign spending. Adams has been the major beneficiary. Pro-Adams super PACs received $1.5 million from Mets owner Steven Cohen, along with another $1 million from hedge funder and charter school advocate Daniel Loeb.Read about it here:\nhttps://www.huffpost.com/entry/new-york-city-mayor-democratic-primary-preview-unpredictable_n_60cf7d06e4b0c101b70e5a1d and https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/21/nyregion/mayor-super-pacs-money.htmlThe RestIt’s Prime Day! And like every U.S. public occasion these days, Amazon’s annual discount bonanza is being treated as an opportunity for both circumspection and political activism: “On #PrimeDay, I say: enough is enough, Jeff. Treat your workers with dignity,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted, with an automated Amazon box emoji next to #PrimeDay summing up the tensions of the occasion. Meanwhile, no amount of sales can reverse President Joe Biden’s somewhat unexpected appointment of outspoken Amazon critic Lina Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission on Friday. Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/15/technology/lina-khan-ftc.htmlAs expected, Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s hard-line chief justice, was declared the winner of the country’s heavily controlled presidential election on Friday. The new administration takes office in August, potentially compressing the timeline for a renewed nuclear agreement with the United States. As the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Karim Sadjadpour writes, Raisi’s “win” is likely to further deepen the regime’s illegitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian people. “Every decade,” he writes, “a new generation of disillusioned Iranians reaches the conclusion that the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed via the ballot box.” Read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/06/iran-president-raisi-biden/619252/The Taliban had a busy weekend, seizing at least 16 additional districts from the Afghan army ahead of a pullout of U.S. troops later this year. Read more: https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2021/06/taliban-enters-kunduz-city-seizes-control-of-17-districts.phpYair Lapid’s first trip abroad as Israel’s foreign minister and alternate prime minister will be to the United Arab Emirates, which he’ll be traveling to next week. It will also be the first-ever state visit of an Israeli to the UAE. Read more: https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/yair-lapid-to-visit-uae-in-historic-first-671608 The Democratic Republic of Congo announced that it won’t renew two oil permits held by controversial Israeli billionaire Daniel Gertler. The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Gertler early in Donald Trump’s term in office, over allegedly extensive bribery of Congolese officials in exchange for mineral rights in the troubled Central African country. The restrictions were lifted right before Trump left office only to be reinstated this past March. Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-20/congo-won-t-renew-billionaire-gertler-s-oil-permits-ministry and https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/08/us/politics/dan-gertler-sanctions.htmlIt’s official: Vaccinated individual tourists from a range of “low risk” countries will be able to enter Israel without a quarantine period, any prior permission, or a serological antibody test starting July 1. Read more: https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/jabbed-tourists-children-0-6-to-be-allowed-in-israel-from-july-1-671557Israel successfully tested a directed energy weapon capable of shooting down enemy drones and rockets. The weapon is carried aboard a small human-piloted aircraft and apparently must be fired from the air at medium range, making it of potentially limited battlefield use for the time being. Still, you can see dramatic video of the laser in action here: https://twitter.com/EylonALevy/status/1406975199870865416Lots of ominous weather news lately: A tropical depression killed 13 people in Alabama over the weekend, while at the other extreme, much of the western United States is experiencing what one expert called “the worst drought in 1,200 years.” Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/18/us-heatwave-west-climate-crisis-droughtA unanimous Supreme Court decision could change the face of college athletics: The court ruled 9-0 that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) had violated antitrust laws in limiting certain types of education-related benefits that student athletes could receive, including modest financial stipends. Although the decision doesn’t mean that schools will immediately be obligated to pay each and every one of their athletes, Brett Kavanaugh’s opinion in particular concluded that the NCAA was just as prohibited from conspiring to suppress workers’ compensation as any other U.S. industry, perhaps creating a basis for a wave of future lawsuits that could end the over-century-old amateur system for good. Read more: https://www.espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/31679946/supreme-court-sides-former-players-dispute-ncaa-compensation\n\nTokyo Olympics watch: A maximum of 10,000 Japanese spectators will be allowed at each event at next month’s games, although they won’t be allowed to cheer. The country’s health authorities had recommended the games proceed without any fans in attendance, due to Japan’s low COVID-19 vaccination rate and fears about new variants of the novel coronavirus. Read more: https://www.axios.com/tokyo-olympics-fans-3a957af8-d26e-4e3a-8050-a4cac2845b74.htmlThe Back PagesBased on its self-declared objectives, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has been one of the least successful political endeavors of modern times. Activism around last month’s war in Gaza didn’t prevent the largest initial public offering in Israeli history when the workflow software company Monday debuted on the Nasdaq at a $6.8 billion valuation on June 10. Four Arab nations have recognized Israel within the past year, while relations with Europe are markedly improving—the Israeli flag flew over seats of government or the headquarters of ruling parties in Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic as the Gaza fighting raged.\n\nBut maybe BDS’s stated goals aren’t its true goals. With Israel more prosperous and less isolated than ever, maybe the movement is actually preying on a softer target. Based on recent events, it has proven adept at sowing division within specific, often unexpected political and social contexts in the United States even as it has been incapable of damaging the State of Israel’s economy and global standing.\n\nFor example, over the weekend, a food truck serving Israeli cuisine was uninvited from a festival in Philadelphia after receiving what one organizer described as “more hate than I thought was possible for having an Israeli vendor.” In major U.S. cities, any association with Israel is now a potential bar to participation in a range of perfectly normal activities, a pretty major accomplishment for the forces of organized Israelophobia. Meanwhile, the official art for the upcoming Chicago Dyke March briefly depicted a protester burning an Israeli and an American flag atop a ruined cop car (the logo was later changed, though the message had already gotten across by then).\n\nIn New York, the pro-BDS Democratic Socialists of America, a group that only needed a couple of years to develop a highly organized ground game and a track record of electoral success in sections of Brooklyn and Queens, has backed six candidates in tomorrow’s City Council Democratic primary elections and asked would-be endorsees to refuse to visit Israel on official business as part of its official candidate questionnaire. The city council that governs the plurality of the world’s Jews is likely to have a pro-BDS caucus, giving future candidates an incentive to endorse the movement and introducing a boycott of the Jewish state as a live issue within Democratic Party politics in a leading U.S. state.\n\nFor years, travel to Israel or involvement with prominent Israelis or Israeli companies has been viewed as the proper antidote to BDS, alongside state-level laws aimed at preventing government money from going toward entities that actively boycott Israel. Such efforts may well be aimed at fighting the wrong battle: The movement is really about making Americans choose sides, regardless of whether they care about the Middle East in the first place, and even if they fill positions as unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a Philadelphia food festival organizer or a New York City Council member. A movement seeking to cast a cloud of untouchable evil over anything even vaguely Israel-related is making “progress” of a kind that fewer Americans in fewer places have the luxury of ignoring.