For Disappointed Palestinians, Arab Inaction Trumps Arab Words

In the vacuum of muted Arab response, non-Arab governments in the Middle East have raised their voices. Turkey has condemned the offensive, while Iran -- widely seen as a Hamas patron -- has called for an oil embargo on Israel and its allies.

Cast Lead has given Arab states a fresh talking point. Saudi Arabia described the operation as "a holocaust on Gaza Strip ... emulating Nazi war crimes."

But Shehata, a political scientist, said that has had little noticeable impact on the realpolitik guiding the official Arab response.

"Every time an Arab government has gotten involved in the Palestinian issue, it hasn't been for the Palestinians, it has been for their own interests," Shehata said. "No country is going to sacrifice its own interest for another people, no matter how sympathetic."

Even so, Palestinian activists are calling for a stronger Arab response.

"Arab countries should take major political steps to make Israel feel that it is paying a high price for the reoccupation of Gaza," said Bargouti. "They should tell Israel that its relationships could be cancelled if Israel continues this attack.

"Right now," Bargouti added, "the only country that has kicked out their Israeli ambassador is Venezuela."

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