"The rapidly escalating conflict in Lebanon has divided the Arab world, deepening the gulf between rulers and ruled and reinforcing in the public's mind the impotence of leaders who for two generations have been unable to produce a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The divide also separates those governments from large segments of their populations.
"What has the Egyptian government done to thwart the Israeli aggressions? The government is having normal relations with Israel, sitting back and saying how much they love Palestine, while Palestinians are being shot dead every day. And then comes this very small nationalist resistance movement which finally manages to do something that all the Arab governments with their huge armies haven't been able to do," said Iman Hamdi, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo. "It very much discredits these regimes in the eyes of the people," she said.
Members of the governing bloc in the Lebanese parliament, led by Saad Hariri, "are the most pro-American Arabs in the Middle East. They have promised, 'America will protect us if we stand against Syria,' " said Joshua Landis, a Middle East expert and professor at the University of Oklahoma.
Now Israel is "blowing the hell out of them, and America isn't taking one step to protect them," Landis said. "The whole Arab world is going to look and see that Hariri has been sacrificed on the altar of Israeli power. For the Arabs, this just rips the face of democracy right off."
There is new talk in the Arab world, Rabbani said, "about a clash of cultures, one between the culture of resistance and the culture of servitude. The official regimes don't like to be upstaged by upstart resistance movements who demonstrate they're able to indeed successfully confront Israel. They don't like to be confronted in a context that raises question marks about their own inertia."