Good morning. We’re covering tension in Israel ahead of a key vote, Thailand’s third wave, and tense diplomacy before the G7 summit.
Fears over Israel’s coalition
Israel’s internal security director issued a rare public warning on Saturday night about what he called rising levels of incitement. The social tensions come ahead of a vote on a political coalition designed to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Far-right Jewish activists announced plans for a provocative march through Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem to occur later this week. And on Sunday, Israeli police detained Palestinian twins whose activism helped bring attention to the displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, which precipitated the recent conflict in Gaza.
The heterogenous coalition could usher in a more liberal civil rights agenda and would include, for the first time in Israeli history, an independent Arab party.
But some fear the political turbulence might prompt hard-right members to withdraw. Netanyahu and his supporters are turning up the heat, accusing ultranationalist members of betraying the country. And hundreds of right-wing protesters picketed the homes of several wavering members.
Divisions: Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up 13 percent of the population, stand to lose power. Under Netanyahu, the two main Haredi parties became linchpins in governing coalitions, wielding their outsized influence to secure generous state funding, fight pandemic restrictions, push a conservative social agenda and exempt members from compulsory military service.
Clubs fuel Thailand’s outbreak
For months, Thailand had no confirmed cases of local transmission. Now, an outbreak is radiating outward from Bangkok’s elite nightclubs to its slums, prisons, construction camps, and factories.
That’s hardly a new trend in Thailand, which has one of the largest wealth gaps among major economies. Many Thais have rigorously kept their masks on and obeyed lockdowns throughout the pandemic. But the privileged few — the phuyai — continued to party. An ambassador and a government minister are among those linked to the clubs who have tested positive.
Analysis: Thailand’s three waves of the coronavirus have crested in zones where the rich profit and defy Covid protocols. The first wave was traced to a stadium operated by the country’s powerful military, which makes money on sports gambling, and the second to a sweatshop seafood business, which depends on immigration officers turning a blind eye to trafficked workers.
Quotable: “The phuyai destroyed the Covid situation themselves, and we, the small people, we cannot live,” said Mutita Thongsopa, a worker whose sister died after contracting Covid-19. “People are dying like falling leaves.”
Regional trend: Thailand’s surge is part of a late-breaking wave that has washed over much of Southeast Asia, where adequate vaccines are largely unavailable.
In other developments:
Previewing Biden’s Europe trip
President Biden will join European leaders at the Group of 7 summit this week in Britain, before heading to visit NATO on June 14. After the previous administration, the simple fact that Biden regards Europe as an ally and NATO as a vital element of Western security is almost a revelation.
But the scars of the last administration will take time to heal, and European leaders saw firsthand how 75 years of American foreign policy can vanish overnight with a change in the presidency.
And leaders still have tense issues to discuss, ranging from the Afghanistan pullout to military spending, Russia and China, from trade disputes and tariff issues to climate and vaccine diplomacy.
Developments: The summit comes after finance ministers agreed to back a new global minimum tax rate that is aimed at stopping large multinational companies from seeking out tax havens.
THE LATEST NEWS
Amsterdam, a beloved tourist magnet built on a swamp, is slowly crumbling. The millions of wood pilings that keep the city upright were engineered to carry the weight of carriages, not cement trucks. So for the next two decades, the city will look like one gigantic construction site.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Seeing and Being Seen
In the small Musée Marmottan in Paris, there’s a little seascape scene. It might look like a typical Impressionist crowd-pleaser: the still water, lapping waves, gentle breeze.
But look closer. The artist Berthe Morisot “may be the most underestimated of all the Impressionists,” my colleague Jason Farago writes, and this painting contains multitudes. In a masterful interpretation, Jason peels back the underestimations.
Morisot, the rare female artist, took the very rare step of painting her husband. The work depicts a seaside vacation, then a new fad. And Impressionist art — now considered pretty — was radical and disruptive, an interpretation of the anxieties around modernization.
Looking closer still, the painting is about the act of looking itself. Morisot’s husband is looking at a woman, who is looking at a child, who is, in turn, looking at the sea — framed like a painting within a painting, like the commodity it had just become. And Morisot is watching them all, documenting a new social order, the Belle Époque, that will be defined by appearances.
“You can see how Morisot paints the seaside as a new stage of modern life, defined through its pleasures and pressures — the pressures, above all, of being watched,” Jason writes.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
There’s no new episode of “The Daily.” Instead, listen to Episode 2 of “Day X,” about far-right extremism in Germany.
You can reach Amelia and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.