DailyKos (and others) get free trip to Israel, but won’t touch Israel-Palestine

Back in April, we were very upset to learn that the Israeli Foreign Ministry was organizing an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for progressive American leaders and bloggers, led by the director of the National Jewish Democratic Council. (See the video above for folks you’ll recognize from outfits like HuffingtonPost, DailyKos, MyDD, and MoveOn. Let us know if you recognize any progressive Israeli leaders like folks from Rabbis for Human Rights, New Profile, ICAHD, or Tayush or… ).

Apparently, this was the first trip to Israel for the bloggers. Participants went to Sderot to see the devastation wrought by Qassam rockets, but needless to say, the group didn’t bother to head to the West Bank or Gaza beyond a meeting in Ramallah with the PA’s chief negotiator.

We wrote to some bloggers to urge that them to visit the Palestinian Occupied Territories, but got no response. At the time, most were keeping their names secret. (We think it was shame–how many of these folks actually wrote about the propaganda educational trip they were on? The few who did deserve kudos for their transparency. )

Israel, AIPAC and private philanthropists have long funded free trips to Israel as a way to shore up support for Israel’s so-called “war on terror”. What was so shocking was the ease with which left bloggers and leaders allowed themselves to be purchased with the promise of a free trip. (There’s no doubt about the objective of the trip.)

Now, Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam points out, that the issue has been deliberately cleansed from one of the internet’s most influential liberal blogs.

Silverstein reports a recent interaction with a blogger who apparently has some sort of official capacity at DailyKos beyond a Diarist:

I introduced myself to the visiting blogger as a local political blogger who writes about U.S.-Israel relations and the presidential election. I asked her whether her blog (remember, I didn’t at the time know it was DK) ever covered the foreign policy implications of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

She shook her head sagely and said: “No.” I asked her why. “Because there’s just no upside in it for us. Too much dissension and disagreement.”

Several years ago, I heard pretty much the exact quote from the station manager of an NPR affiliate. The atmosphere is so bad that there’s no shame in saying it openly.

In fact, a cursory search in DailyKos indicates that debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is nearly invisible. Markos himself gives some indication of why they shy away from the issue:

When I get an email with the word “zionist” on it, how come it’s ALWAYS some crazy, anti-semitic conspiracy rant

While I sympathize with the reality that this issue brings out the extremists on all sides, there’s simply no excuse for excising the topic nearly altogether –especially when they’re accepting free trips to Israel. Trips, lets face it, which are no more likely to be even-handed than free trips offered by Fatah or Hamas.

DailyKos and the other bloggers should all be transparent about the trips, and their policies on covering the issue, but they’re not.

To state the obvious, this is not a side show issue here. We’re talking about everything from the presidential race and efforts to derail Obama, and possible war with Iran, to the meaning of Sarah Palin’s Christian right ascendancy and preventing a future 9/11. With everyone more than happy to just back down and avoid the issue altogether, and with left bloggers hiding in plain view, no wonder we’re in the mess we’re in.