The Arab public is expressing outrage over the Israeli bombing raids over Gaza. A significant portion of this outrage is reserved for Arab leaders, who have been largely silent and even -- in the eyes of many -- complicit in the attack. The picture below, of Egypt's Foreign Minister with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, has become a defining symbol of the campaign. While nobody much seems to be paying attention in a U.S. preoccupied by holidays and the transition, I'd advise watching whether long building Arab anger over the Gaza situation explodes... especially in Egypt.
Two points of note. First, the Arab media seems to be dividing along now-familiar lines, with al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya exemplifying two very different approaches. If the bombing campaign is the preface to a wider Israeli offensive in Gaza, it will interesting to track whether a divide in the Arab media emerges similar to the one during the first ten days or so of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war. In that conflict, al-Arabiya and much of the Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian semi-official media downplayed coverage of the war and largely blamed Hezbollah, while al-Jazeera went into full regional crisis mode. Today, I've been seeing blanket coverage of Gaza on al-Jazeera while on al-Arabiya's website this morning not one of the top five news stories dealt with Gaza. That's only an early indicator, but given the current political lines of conflict in the region, and Israeli diplomatic preparations for the offensive with Arab leaders, this may well happen again.
Second, keep an eye on Cairo. Egypt has been at the heart of the Arab anger over the evolving crisis. It's been the one enforcing the blockade, ignoring a rising chorus of public criticism at home and in the wider Arab world. Egyptian and Arab media and political forces have been lacerating the Mubarak regime for months over its enforcement of the blockade of Gaza. Today, the Muslim Brotherhood upped the ante by calling for a highly unusual public protest today to be led by Supreme Guide Mohammed Mehdi Akef -- announced in a blaring red banner atop its official website. Most likely, this will just be another symbolic protest, but it contributes to a crisis atmosphere and there's no telling how the various forces will react.