BCL has an item today on some prominent Conservative bloggers presently in Israel on a trip sponsored by the CIC. I see a bit of glee in some reaction to this trip, of the wow, good for you variety. What you might think you'd see, however, would be some consideration of what it would mean to accept a trip like that, as expensive as it would be, for a blogger and how it might impact the credibility of what they might write in the future. Can anyone read their blogs without the knowledge from here on in that they have received this all expenses paid trip? No, and irrespective of the positions they take, that criticism can be made. But, people can make their own decisions about such considerations and it's up to individual bloggers to decide what perks they will accept as a result of their blogging.
I note that Dr. Dawg states that he was offered a trip last year and turned it down. Coincidentally, I received a similar offer about two weeks ago, very politely and attractively framed, from the CIC with respect to a trip for bloggers in May, all expenses paid. At the end of the day, I thanked them but also turned it down. For anyone interested in politics, anywhere, the trip, pitched as including meeting Israeli political bloggers, spending time in Jerusalem, East Jerusalem (quite timely and topical), Tel Aviv, other parts of the country, meeting with both Arab and Jewish leaders, Palestinians, etc. was certainly an intriguing offer. Many would consider it a trip of a lifetime, quite expensive.
It has put a bug in my head about going, at some point in my life but on my own timing, which is presently not good, and on my own - and my spouse's(!) - dime.