Bari Weiss and The Free Press team during their trip to Israel.
Bari and The Free Press team during their trip to Israel in January.

Binge Our Miniseries: The Free Press in Israel

Don’t miss our special three-part audio documentary report from the front lines of the war.

By The Free Press

March 23, 2024

If you’ve been paying attention to the Honestly feed recently, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been doing something different. Instead of our weekly interviews and debates, the last three weeks have been filled with our Free Press in Israel” series: a special three-part audio documentary report on our time in Israel earlier this year.

And if you’ve been paying attention but haven’t yet pressed play, this weekend is a perfect time to do so. The series is meant to be listened to in order, and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

In Part 1, “Running Toward Fire,” you’ll hear from the young and old, men and women, who—when confronted with the worst thing imaginable—selflessly and without hesitation leapt forward to defend their country. In some cases, they grabbed their weapons without even waiting for official directions from the army.

The three main characters we profile—who truly are the embodiment of the word hero—are people who had also spent the last year protesting Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and proposed judicial reform, consumed with worry that Israel was headed in a direction they could no longer support. For many Israelis, it felt like the country was headed for a civil disaster. But then came October 7, and what emerged was a level of civic obligation, duty, and sacrifice that they themselves didn’t think they were capable of. 

You’ll hear that tension and paradox—citizens so frustrated with their country but so dedicated to it at the same time—throughout the episode. And as one reservist, Bosmat, told us, “For me, it’s not even a paradox. I have plenty of criticism, and it’s obvious to me that we need to protest the government. At the same time, I’m not going to abandon Israel, my service, my friends, my family, or people who need protection.” 

In Part 2, “Shattered Illusions,” we flip the lens. When we went to Israel, we tried tirelessly to get into Gaza, but Israel’s counteroffensive made it impossible for us to go to the strip during those days. Instead, we spent time in and around the West Bank. First, we went to the Qalandia checkpoint, one of the biggest checkpoints in Israel, where tens of thousands of Palestinians cross from the West Bank into East Jerusalem daily. Then, we went to the key Palestinian political and cultural center of Ramallah.

In the first half of this episode, you’ll hear the unfiltered voices of ordinary Palestinians in the West Bank. We ask questions like what they think about October 7, about the ongoing war, and about the prospect of two states between the river and the sea. We also talk to people about how their daily lives have changed since October 7, if they believe violence is an acceptable tool of resistance, and what Palestinian nationalism means to them.

If you grew up attached to the idea of a two-state solution, what you’ll hear is surprising. Over and over, people told us they supported the events of October 7.

At the same time, our week in Israel revealed something else surprising about this place—and that’s how cohesive Israeli society has become, even and including among Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority. In fact, polls show that when Arab Israelis were asked after October 7 if they feel a part of Israel, 70 percent said yes. (Before October 7, it was just 48 percent.)

In the second half of this episode, we talk to an extraordinary Muslim Israeli Arab, Lucy Aharish, who not only feels a part of Israel but is also doing everything she can to fight against Israel’s enemies—both internal and external. As she told us, “I love this country like I love my parents. I don’t always agree with my parents. But I’ll do anything for them.” 

Lucy sits on the fence between two very different worlds—and from that unique vantage point, offers a hopeful vision for the future. “For the first time,” Lucy says, “October 7 proved that Arabs living in Israel and Jews living in Israel share the same destiny.” 

Finally, we close out the series with Part 3, “The Gathering Storm,” where you’ll hear from the journalist Haviv Rettig Gur, who is one of the most important and insightful writers of our time on Israel and the Middle East.

We talk about many things, including the uncertain future for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for Jews around the world; the larger fight happening within Islam that this war represents; what progressives in the West don’t understand about that fight, or about the Middle East more generally; and why ordinary Americans need to understand that history has not ended—and that we’re still very much living inside it.

The events of October 7—and the ongoing war between Israel, Hamas, and other Iranian proxies—isn’t just about another war in another faraway place. As you’ll discover throughout this series, this is about the difference between democracy and tyranny, between freedom and unfreedom—in a world that seems to have lost the ability to distinguish between the two.

As one reservist told us, “We’re doing this for the world. Hamas is an idea. It looks at you in L.A. as the enemy, not just us in Israel. We just happen to be their neighbors.”

We hope you listen. 

To support more of our work, become a Free Press subscriber today:

Subscribe now

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