In the first days of fighting in the Middle East, some Arab leaders found themselves in the unusual position of criticizing an attack on Israel; suggesting that Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, the event that started this latest bloodshed, was ill-conceived, risky and wrong.
At that time, the loudest complaints about Israel's actions were coming from Syria and Iran, countries that have backed Hezbollah for years.
But look at how a little more than two weeks can change things.
The Israeli military has been battling Hezbollah nonstop and hammering Lebanon. And now, Middle East watchers say public complaints about Israel's actions are growing noticeably louder throughout the Arab world. The images of Lebanese killed, wounded and fleeing; the pictures of Hezbollah neighborhoods reduced to rubble; the mere thought of Israel attacking on the soil of an Arab country -- these things have triggered many deep-seated and long-lived hatreds.
Some of the Middle East experts I have talked to say this should not be mistaken for the beginning of a massive, pro-Hezbollah movement. Many Arabs, they say, especially those who must live alongside Hezbollah in Lebanon, do not like the group's radical politics and despise its militant methods. But few Arabs say that publicly.
It was explained to me this way: Ask any Arab if he or she supports Hezbollah right now and that person is likely to say "yes," but what they mean is that they are not about to be heard supporting Israel.
Some Arabs have always hated Israel and probably always will. Some Israelis, no doubt, would be happy to be rid of many Arabs. So my question is this: Does it make any difference, with the guns of war pounding, that their hatreds may be hardening even more?