The Daily Kos and Israel

Dean Barnett argues that the diaries and comments on the current conflict in the Middle East at The Daily Kos foreshadow a major problem for the Democratic party:

The Conflagration in Lebanon has provided an example of the people-powered movement’s potential to be a liability for the politicians who have tried to curry favor with it.

Perhaps sensing that this issue could highlight just how far removed the Kos community is from the American mainstream, Moulitsas and his other front-page bloggers have opted to ignore Israel’s war. Combined, the half dozen front-pagers have written exactly one post on the subject. And that post, authored by Moulitsas, simply declared that he wouldn’t write anything further on the subject. So while the most important story of the year develops, the nation’s leading progressive blog has chosen to focus on the Indiana second district House race between Chris Chocola and Joe Donnelly. Nothing wrong with that; it’s their prerogative to blog about whatever they like.

But inside the Kos diaries, it’s been a different story. The conversation in the diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel–and potentially disastrous for the Democratic party.

One diarist labeled Israel “a destabilizing force in the region” and saw “no difference between Iran’s support of Hezbollah and Hamas in the form of finances and even arms and The United States’ financial support of Israel.” Before modifying this diary into a more moderate form, the author opened his essay with the declaration, “Israel is showing the entire world why the Iranian President was absolutely right to suggest that Israel cease being a sovereign state as is.”

Read the full piece.

I would add that it’s not just at The Daily Kos either. There’s a distinct strain of rabid anti-Israel sentiment that is often found in the comments of major blogs in liberal blogosphere. I hesitate to label all of it as anti-Semitic, however, I have certainly documented examples that can not be labeled any other way.

And looking at the big picture, Ann Althouse thinks this is indicative of a broader problem for Kos: “The readership is gained with sharp opinions. It wants to transform that readership into political power. But the style and extremity of opinion doesn’t suit the people who need to be won over.”

UPDATE (James Joyner): I must say, there’s plenty of nutty things written out in the blogosphere (Left and Right) without looking at the comments sections. Certainly, as Anderson notes in the comments below, there are plenty of rantings and ravings in the comments on popular sites out there, including very civil ones, including OTB’s. I’m not sure that’s an indication of much of anything other than that there are plenty of morons who enjoy having a forum in which to spout off.

The second paragraph of Barnett’s piece, though, alludes to an interesting dichotomy:

On the one hand, one of the most solid blocks of support for the Democratic party is America’s Jewish community. Not only do America’s Jews tend to vote for Democrats, they tend to actively campaign and raise funds for politicians on the left. But for many American Jews, even the most liberal, Israel’s welfare is a going concern. Politicians who enter the Democratic party (and for that matter the Republican party) usually make a conspicuous show of the fact that they are “right on Israel.”

For a variety of reasons, most of the most loyal supporters of Israel in American politics are on the Right and/or members of the Republic Party. Yet, most American Jews, for a variety of reasons, support the Democrats. Presumably, this means that, despite the ravings of Pat Buchanan, most American Jews are driven by issues other than Israel.

UPDATE (James Joyner): Judith Weiss observes that “What’s funny about the Daily Kos diaries is that these guys constantly castigate Charles Johnson for LGF comments, saying he is responsible for them and should be policing his threads, even if he didn’t write them. . . . Now the shoe is on the other foot.” She closes with a question: “So can we agree that if your blog gets hundred of comments a day, you can’t be held responsible for all of them?” Yes, I think we can.

UPDATE: Although I disagree with his reasoning on why Kos refuses to blog about the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, reader Cernig makes an excellent point about Kos’s refusal in general:

Kos says he won’t because he grew up in a war zone and knows that “when two sides are dead set on killing each other, very little can get in the way” – and bloviating pundits aren’t one of those things. He says that he has “no desire to get sucked into that no-win situation”.

Its funny, because he has no problem b[l]ogging about Iraq, or Afghanistan – but those topics are reasonably unproblematic for the Militant Left.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Greg Tinti
About Greg Tinti
Greg started the blog The Political Pit Bull in August 2005. He was OTB's Breaking News Editor from June through August 2006 before deciding to return to his own blog. His blogging career eventually ended altogether. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from The George Washington University,

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    Thereâ??s a distinct strain of rabid anti-Israel sentiment that is often found in the comments of major blogs in liberal blogosphere.

    I am still trying to believe that I actually am reading this in an OTB post.

    Ever checked out the comment threads *here*? Plenty of rabidity. Regular vaccinations recommended.

    “Major blogs” by definition attract lots of nutjobs in comment threads. To elevate this into some kind of worthwhile point about the Democrats, is to suggest that we take Herb and Zelsdorf as representative of the Republican Party. I’m guessing that JJ and Tinti would find that a non-starter?

  2. Oldcrow says:

    It is even worse than this KOS actually wrote a post that advocated terrorist attacks here in the U.S. because we supply arms to Israel. In his defense he did say only military targets should be hit. He is openly advocating terror attacks against our military and stating it would be justified.

  3. DC Loser says:

    This post was gonna happen sooner or later. You run out of things to rant about, so you start calling people you disagree with anti-semites.

  4. ticketplease says:

    Yes we disagree with them but it would be nice if when they talk about current events they could at least stick to the truth. Israel didn’t start this, Hamas did, then Hezbollah figured , You won’t deal with Hamas but you have dealt with us in the past. So we will kidnap some of your soldiers while killing others. Israel isn’t the bad guy here, Hamas and Hezbollah are. Kill them till they can’t kill back. Israel is even calling people on the phone, besides dropping leaflets, doing TV Commercials telling people to get out of the way and where they will be bombing. You never tell the enemy where you are going to hit next, that’s Israel acting dumb and not killing them all. You’ll says these are innocent Lebanese, no they aren’t. They let Hezbollah in, they got what they asked for. Same with the Palestinians. They voted in Terrorists, we don’t support Terrorists. Cut off the money. They will learn from their mistakes. And don’t start with the, “We told them to be democratic, they were doing what they were told.” AND freedom of choice comes with the consequences of your actions! EVERYONE knows that. You lay down with dogs you come up with fleas. Doesn’t anyone have ANY common sense anymore?????

  5. Anderson says:

    Doesnâ??t anyone have ANY common sense anymore?????

    Or, failing that, basic paragraphing skills?

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Anderson and DC Loser. All we need is Anjin and Ken and we will have a quarter deck. I was pretty sure I smelled moodbat sh*t. It is amazing how consistently you deny the truth, that is available with very little searching. Rather than trying to change who we do things, why not move to a place where they operate the way you like? Argentina is looking for recruits. You could never be accused of being part of the intelligentsia, so you should be safe. Chavez loves turncoat Americans.

  7. Greg Tinti says:

    You run out of things to rant about, so you start calling people you disagree with anti-semites.

    Whatever, you anti-semite.

  8. Steven Plunk says:

    I have not seen evidence of Kos and his followers ever being any sort of political force. I believe his 0- for whatever score in the endorsement game shows that blogs have a very limited impact on election results so far.

    If the main stream media plays up the outlandish views published in both left wing and right wing blog comments we may see some effect but it would take their involvement to catalyze a reaction.

    As for the extreme views expressed here I think many of us have learned which to read and which to pass over.

    I read and post here to educate myself and put my ideas out there for critical analysis by other people who are generally much smarter than me. It is a way to increase my own knowledge not to beat others over the head with rhetoric.

  9. Hal says:

    I’m just wondering when OTB became an appendage of Josh Tevino’s RedState project…

    Keep pushing it, Greg. Apparently, it’s what the public wants.

  10. Cernig says:

    Of course there is a simpler answer to the Kos non-blogging of the conflict than the Weekly Standard’s conspiracy theorizing…Ad Revenue!

    Lots of bloggers have different reasons for wanting to steer shy of writing about the Israel/Palestine/Lebanon furball (e.g. Kevin Drum). Kos says he won’t because he grew up in a war zone and knows that “when two sides are dead set on killing each other, very little can get in the way” – and bloviating pundits aren’t one of those things. He says that he has “no desire to get sucked into that no-win situation”.

    Its funny, because he has no problem bogging about Iraq, or Afghanistan – but those topics are reasonably unproblematic for the Militant Left.

    I’ve a sneaking suspicion its more about fear of alienating either his Israel Lobby Lefty readers or his Pro-Palestine Leftie readers. Either way, he takes a hit in readers and thus ad revenue.

    In the dictionary, under “cynic” it has my picture.

    Regards, Cernig

    (P.S. And now you know why Newshog doesn’t get wild linkage from the “Liberal” Blogs. I regard myself as further to the true Left, rather than the Militant and noisy version, than most of them – but I refuse to be part of anyone’s echo chamber.

  11. Greg Tinti says:

    Hal,

    In all seriousness, what are you talking about? In no way am I saying that Kos or any prominent liberal blogger is anti-Semitic. All I am saying is that there are a lot of anti-Israel commenters on those blogs. I don’t label people anything just because I disagree with them. Period. Just last week, I wrote a similar post about Pat Buchanan and whether or not his views were anti-Semitic. But I know, I’m a partisan hack.

  12. Anderson says:

    Weiss’s comment is spot-on; there are plenty of things to criticize the LGF posters about besides their crazed commenters.

    Whatever, you anti-semite.

    Good one, Tinti.

  13. McGehee says:

    Good one, Tinti.

    Indeed. I could see Greg’s eyes rolling all the way down here in Georgia.

  14. Hal says:

    Greg, I never claimed you were calling people anti-Semitic – that was another commenter. What I was commenting on was the fact that your posts seem far more suited to a fully partisan site like RedState, rather than here at OTB. When James was running the place alone, he had a very crypto-conservative style that – while I was quite clear we didn’t agree on pretty much everything political – at least I could get the illusion that he was trying to be even handed and suppressed the urge to enter into partisan bickering.

    Calling out KOS for *not* commenting and making the whole conflict a partisan issue – which is what you’re doing – is the stuff of RedState. Now, far be it from me to tell James how to run his site. You guys have an astronomical hit count, so your doing something right. But I kind of miss the old days when I would drop by to find the kind of fare that I normally find on RedState or PowerLine. It sucks to have to keep bleaching my eyeballs when I see this stuff – especially regarding the radioactive issue of Israeli politics. Thanks for dragging yet another site into a partisan argument about support for Israel.

    Oh, and the bit about Buchanan? I mean,really. That’s like me taking a swipe at Chomsky to prove my centrist creds. It’s a cheap, easy shot that is solely to build up the illusion without actually walking the walk. From the posts I’ve seen, you’re pretty much a straight line partisan kind of guy – hardly a centrist or a balanced debater.

    But we all have our illusions.

  15. Dave Schuler says:

    The “netroots” will be on the road to real influence in the Democratic Party when a) the candidates they put forward become the regular Democratic candidates or b) their candidates beat the regular Democratic candidates in primaries and get elected in the general election. Until that happens they’ll just be an ATM as far the DNC is concerned. Kos recognizes this; he’s written as much himself.

    Until then they’re just noisy. Will the noise scare away moderates? We’ll see.

    I don’t know, Cernig. I think that Kos may be a True Believer. Can one simultaneously be a True Believer and in it for the money? Are they mutually exclusive? Do they go hand-in-hand? Beats me.

  16. Bithead says:

    What do you suppose, the average voter will be doubless able to fend off the kind of comments seen in the left side of the shere as a group of nut cases.

    But when they see Kerry, today, and the treatment of Joe Lieberman at the hands of the same folks, with the apparent blessing of the DNC, and they see the number of Netruts showing up to join in in Hezbolah rallies, they may come away with the idea that what they see in those places is what passes for leftist ‘thought’ anymore,a nd view it as the danger it is.

  17. Hal says:

    Its funny, because he has no problem bogging about Iraq, or Afghanistan – but those topics are reasonably unproblematic for the Militant Left.
    I�ve a sneaking suspicion its more about fear of alienating either his Israel Lobby Lefty readers or his Pro-Palestine Lefty readers. Either way, he takes a hit in readers and thus ad revenue.

    Ever consider that Iraq, Afghanistan and The issue with Israel/Lebanon/Hezbollah are different things? In Iraq/Afghanistan, these were the USA executing the war. Israel/Lebanon is not the US. So, punditry about Iraq/Afghanistan is natural for those whose interest lies with the US – i.e. it’s *our* wars. Israel/Lebanon – no matter how much the right wing wants it to be a proxy war and entry into hostilities with Iran/Syria – is *not* our war. So, not commenting on it has nothing to do with the “militant left net roots”. Rather, it’s a regional conflict that – while having implications for the US – isn’t actually us prosecuting the war.

  18. Bithead says:

    That illusion, Hal, would seem to have disappeared when Israel started reporting Iranian made munitions falling on their cities, along with the Syrian made ones.

    As an aside, it strikes me as someone amusing if in a grim a way, that the left took it so calmly, this news about Hezbollah being far better armed than intelligence had been led to believe. The Hartley said a word about that. Almost as if they remembered their claims during post 9/11 times,a nd feared getting bitten by their own words.

    .

  19. Omar says:

    Unlike the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the Israel-Hezbollah conflict does not directly involve the United States. And he is right that both are dead set on killing each other. This is not the case with Iraq or Afghanistan, where only one side is dead set on doing the killing. Or are you suggesting that our troops are there for reasons other than just trying to establish democracies?

  20. jpe says:

    Its funny, because he has no problem b[l]ogging about Iraq

    Actually, he’s being perfectly consistent. His problem is that we’ve just unleashed a centuries-old conflict that won’t ever end, and are just standing in the middle of it.