(Photo by Leo Correa/AFP via Getty Images)

Can Israel Actually Win This War? Plus. . .

Matti Friedman on Benjamin Netanyahu. Uri Berliner joins The Free Press. Niall Ferguson’s debut column causes a stir. And much, much more.

Is dropshipping a scam? Why did Niall Ferguson’s debut Free Press column provoke so many responses? Why are Americans divided on foreign policy? And what are your Fourth of July recommendations? All that and much more on today’s Front Page from The Free Press. 

But first, we bring you two snapshots of what’s happening on the ground in Israel. Here’s the first one: Free Press columnist Matti Friedman on Benjamin Netanyahu, the divisive, tragic figure at the helm during this moment of acute crisis for whom, as Matti puts it, “success exists in the first-person singular, while failure is first-person plural.” 

It has been nearly nine months since Hamas began its war against Israel. During this time, our prime minister has given almost no interviews to journalists from his country, limiting himself to the occasional exchange with a reporter from abroad or a local admirer. There are simply too many questions that Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to answer. So I decided to interview a book he wrote—a memoir published a year before the war. I read it looking for insight into a leader whose approval rating hovers around 30 percent, but who believes, still, that he alone can save Israel. 

It would be rare for an author to hope that as many people as possible never read their book. But this may well be true of Bibi: My Story. The memoir came out in the fall of 2022, a year before the Hamas onslaught of October 7. But it’s far more valuable now than it was at the time of publication. 

Some dismiss any autobiography as calculated and self-serving, a genre likely to hide more than it tells. I tended to like my accounts “unauthorized” until a discerning reader convinced me that a person’s self-portrait is often deeply and unintentionally revealing for the same reason that a friend’s Instagram post can make us cringe: what you’re seeing may not be real, but it’s a real picture of the way an author wants to see themselves and be seen by others. 

That desire, and the gap between that desire and reality, is one of the most intimate parts of who we are. A savvy writer armors up with self-awareness and humor, as Churchill did in My Early Life, making his egotism palatable and disarming to all but his most dour critics. Those tools are not available to Netanyahu. So as a portrait of the tragic figure at the helm in Israel, Bibi ends up being more telling than any expert analysis. Continue reading for the full picture of Israel’s embattled leader. 

Can Israel Actually Win This War?

When Hamas attacked Israel eight months ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s war goals were threefold: one, destroy Hamas; two, free all the hostages; and three, ensure that Gaza can never threaten Israel again.

More than 250 days later, some 120 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, both dead and alive. Two Hamas battalions remain, consisting of somewhere between 9,000 and 12,000 fighters. More than 300 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza and thousands wounded, 135,000 Israeli civilians are still displaced, and the war seems to have no end in sight.

Why? Israel is supposed to be the greatest military force in the Middle East. So: Are their war goals even viable? Can the country actually win this war?

Today on Honestly, Bari Weiss puts these questions to Seth Frantzman, the senior Middle East correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post, and John Spencer, a two-time veteran of the Iraq war and an expert in urban warfare. Click below to listen to their conversation or catch it on the Honestly feed wherever you get your podcasts.  

The Free Press is thrilled to announce today that Uri Berliner is joining us as a senior editor, helping us craft our stories and mentor a new generation of independent journalists. Uri—with his deep background in print and audio, his commitment to viewpoint diversity, and his bravery, is a natural fit for our growing team. 

We are hiring more best-in-class editors, reporters, and columnists than ever as we continue to set the news agenda, especially during this election cycle. As Uri says: “I’m joining The Free Press because it provides America with groundbreaking, fearless, and independent-minded journalism. I’m inspired to join this team.” We’re lucky to have him.

If you’re looking at what we’re building and think this might be for you, write to: —Bari Weiss

  1. Julian Assange has reached a plea deal with the United States Justice Department that will allow him to walk free after spending five years in a British prison. (NBC) Read Rupa Subramanya on why the U.S. should have dropped the case against Assange: “Julian Assange Gave America the Ugly Truth.” 

  2. TikTok is in denial about its impending ban in the United States, report Max Tani and Ben Smith from the advertising industry’s annual powwow in Cannes. The Chinese-owned app’s executives were busy drumming up business—and wanted to talk about anything other than the push from Washington to put them out of business. (Semafor

  3. Waymo has been given the greenlight to extend its robotaxi business into a wider swath of San Francisco as well as parts of Los Angeles. As Matt Yglesias notes, self-driving cars were overhyped for years, but now that the technology is actually here no one seems that excited. (The Register

  4. Europe’s rightward turn is being driven by young voters, especially young men. Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues that the ideology being embraced by the young “is likely to combine elements of cultural liberalism, immigration restrictionism, national ethno-traditionalism, and statist pro-natalism.” Definitely won’t happen here. (Restoration

  5. Last week, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison talked up Joe Biden’s chances in Florida. Insisting the state was in play, he told ABC that come November “we’re going to be saying ‘Florida, Florida, Florida.’ ” This week, the chair of Biden’s reelection campaign, Jen O’Malley Dillon, was asked whether Florida was a battleground state. Her refreshingly honest answer? “No.” (The Hill

  6. Saudi Arabia announced that 1,300 Muslim pilgrims died during the Hajj this year. Temperatures have reached 125 degrees in recent days, and a Saudi health minister said that 83 percent of those who died were “unauthorized pilgrims” who “walked long distances under direct sunlight without adequate shelter or comfort.” (Axios

  7. There’s also concern about high temperatures in my home nation of the United Kingdom. Authorities have issued a “health alert,” warning that temperatures could hit. . . 86 degrees. (The Telegraph)

  8. Gilead Sciences’ twice-yearly shot prevented 100 percent of HIV cases in women and teenage girls, according to a trial in Africa. One analyst called the results a “near-best-case” scenario for the company. (Bloomberg

  9. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Biden administration’s challenge to laws in Tennessee and Kentucky that restrict the use of gender-transition treatments on minors. When the decision comes out, around this time next year, I expect comity, good-faith debate, and little controversy. (National Review

  10. Memo to the crystal-purchasing denizens of Silverlake: that rose quartz you bought to help manifest a new boyfriend is wreaking havoc in South Africa, where your good vibes come courtesy of backbreaking, low-wage labor. (Wall Street Journal

Maddy Glynn wants me to feel poor. “If you’re in your 20s or 30s and you’re not making at least ten thousand dollars a month,” she starts one TikTok, “Watch this.” Maddy, who has nearly 250,000 followers, is tan, blonde, telegenic, and 24 years old, is standing in a house with bare off-white walls and a few immaculately placed houseplants, but no furniture in sight. It’s the sort of house that looks empty in an expensive way—in a way that mine does not, presumably because I have not yet taken her course in dropshipping.

I also have not taken Andrew Tate’s course in dropshipping, or Kevin David’s, or Wholesale Ted’s, or any of the hundreds of other courses in dropshipping that are bought and sold daily on the internet, marketed by flashy lifestyles, easy-listening inspirational music, ever-changing backstories, and screengrabs of charts showing hockey stick growth.

Dropshipping is simple enough. It all depends on finding a cheap product from a (typically Chinese) supplier that might go viral online, like a disposable toilet brush set, a calming pet pillow, or a pressing machine for dumplings (all items listed in a YouTube video called “Top 10 Best Dropshipping Items For December 2023 & 2024”). The dropshipper then creates a website (usually via Shopify), lists the potentially viral product for more than it’s worth, and then markets it, through both social media posts and paid digital advertising. When the dropshipper gets orders, they forward them to the supplier, who ships directly to the customer. The dropshipper pays the supplier the product’s original, wholesale price, and keeps the markup. For example, this dog pillow that went “viral” on Facebook was retailed by a dropshipper at $29.99, but cost only $7.44 on AliExpress, a major dropshipping supplier site.

All of this sounds very easy and profitable, which perhaps accounts for the massive interest dropshipping has recently seen online. Continue reading. 

→ Politics doesn’t stop at the water’s edge: In 1947, Republican Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Arthur Vandenberg famously declared that “partisan politics ends at the water’s edge”—recognizing that America had entered the Cold War, and that the struggle ahead demanded a new unity. 

Of course, no Republican could get away with that today. Senator J.D. Vance or Rep. Matt Gaetz or some other self-described isolationist would accuse any latter-day Vandenberg of being a shill for the Deep State, and the shill would be stripped of any leadership positions, primaried, and ultimately forced to live with a security detail 24/7.

Today in America, politics definitely does not stop at the water’s edge, which is why Democrats are expected to support Ukraine while being accused of genocide for supporting Israel, and Republicans are expected to support the Jewish state while pretending that Vladimir Putin had no choice but to invade Ukraine.

Which is a shame, because—as the news that South Korea is considering arming Ukraine shows—the rest of the world has little time for American partisanship. The rest of the world is not a Democrat or a Republican, and it is quickly breaking into two camps—the camp that, broadly speaking, subscribes to democratic capitalism. And the bad people.

Yes, of course, it’s unseemly or crass or stupid or ignorant to refer to whole peoples or regimes as good or bad. The bad guys are pretty clear that they’re on the same team (they call it the Axis of Resistance). The reality we face is not that dissimilar to the one faced by Arthur Vandenberg and, up the road, Democratic President Harry Truman in the late 1940s. The major difference between then and now is that now we are cognitively—characterologically—ill-equipped to do battle with those who are already doing battle with us. —Peter Savodnik

→ Late Soviet showdown: As soon as we read the first draft of Niall Ferguson’s debut Free Press column, we knew it would ruffle some feathers. “We’re All Soviets Now,” he argued, brandishing the receipts to show the shocking ways in which he thinks today’s United States resembles the Soviet Union of the seventies and eighties. We’re unwell, heavily indebted, run by a mistrusted gerontocracy, and subjected to a bogus ideology pushed by elites. 

It was vintage Ferguson: a thorough, audacious provocation. And, unsurprisingly, it drove some people crazy. 

We’d scarcely updated our homepage before the rebuttals came pouring in. 

“Soviet Amerika? Nyet!” exclaimed professional optimist and AEI fellow James Pethokoukis on his Substack, Faster, Please! Pethokoukis scolded Niall: “I understand the temptation to be shocking in an opinion-crowded media environment. But I’m not sure this attempt at shock commentary is effective.”

Another economist Substacker, Noah Smith, took issue too. “Ferguson throws in a number of talking points that don’t make sense,” he said. 

One of the more interesting critiques came from AIER president Will Ruger, for whom the biggest problem with Niall’s analysis is that—to extend the Cold War analogy—“China is hardly like the United States was in the 1980s. Xi is no Reagan. And China has a lot of problems today that will keep it from being as much of a challenge to us as we were to the Soviets.” 

But the most thorough—or at least the longest—response came from Dispatch editor-in-chief Jonah Goldberg. “No, We Are Not Living In ‘Late Soviet America,’ ” he argued in an essay the next day. “Do we have problems that have some superficial similarities with the Soviets? Sure. But. . . come on.” Goldberg notes: “The Soviet Union built a wall to keep its subjects trapped inside their evil empire. Many Americans understandably believe we need a wall to keep millions of people desperate to live here out.” 

Niall fought back on Twitter. Of Noah Smith’s response he said: “This is so plodding and lame I think GPT-4 wrote it.” He accused Goldberg of “cope.” 

“If the point is to shock with hyperbole, okay,” replied Goldberg. “But don’t get angry at me for pointing out it is in fact hyperbole.” 

All of a sudden, we had a real beef on our hands. Step aside, Kendrick and Drake. The showdown of the year is Ferguson vs. Goldberg. And we’re happy to report that they have agreed to settle it once and for all on the podcast field. So look out for that on your Honestly feed soon.

For Fourth of July viewing, Celia recommends the film ‘1776’: John Adams’ plaintive refrain, “Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?” seems like something that would resonate with Free Press readers.

For an alternative take on national service, Mark recommends Tom Lehrer’s song “It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier”: 

The heart of every man in our platoon must swell with pride
For the nation’s youth, the cream of which is marching at his side
For the fascinating rules and regulations that we share
And the quaint and curious costumes that we’re called upon to wear

Readers, how do you celebrate the Fourth of July? Send all your Independence Day recommendations—whether they relate to fireworks or flag cakes—to

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman

To support The Free Press, become a paid subscriber today: 

Subscribe now

And if you’re enjoying The Front Page, consider forwarding it to someone else you think might like it. 

The Free Press earns a commission from any purchases made through links in this article.

our Comments

Use common sense here: disagree, debate, but don't be a .

the fp logo
comment bg

Welcome to The FP Community!

Our comments are an editorial product for our readers to have smart, thoughtful conversations and debates — the sort we need more of in America today. The sort of debate we love.   

We have standards in our comments section just as we do in our journalism. If you’re being a jerk, we might delete that one. And if you’re being a jerk for a long time, we might remove you from the comments section. 

Common Sense was our original name, so please use some when posting. Here are some guidelines:

  • We have a simple rule for all Free Press staff: act online the way you act in real life. We think that’s a good rule for everyone.
  • We drop an occasional F-bomb ourselves, but try to keep your profanities in check. We’re proud to have Free Press readers of every age, and we want to model good behavior for them. (Hello to Intern Julia!)
  • Speaking of obscenities, don’t hurl them at each other. Harassment, threats, and derogatory comments that derail productive conversation are a hard no.
  • Criticizing and wrestling with what you read here is great. Our rule of thumb is that smart people debate ideas, dumb people debate identity. So keep it classy. 
  • Don’t spam, solicit, or advertise here. Submit your recommendations to if you really think our audience needs to hear about it.
Close Guidelines