Venezuela's Chávez: the New Hero in the Arab World

Portraits of Chávez are being displayed around the Middle East after he blasted the "holocaust" in Gaza.

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The new hero of the Arab street is American archenemy Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president who recently expelled Israel's ambassador. Reports Al Arabiya:

Since Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip began, Venezuela's president has openly and strongly criticized Israel and the United States for what he labeled the "holocaust" of the Palestinian people; his outspoken rhetoric has turned him into a hero for the Arabs resisting occupation. Venezuelan flags and portraits of Hugo Chávez have been flying high during protests across the Middle East, with people in Lebanon, Jordan and across the Palestinian territories showing their support for the left-wing South American leader.

Perhaps the main targets of Arab rage over Gaza are the leaders of moderate Arab countries. In Egypt, whose leaders are trying to mediate a truce between Israel and Gaza, criticism is growing of President Hosni Mubarak's regime for siding with Israel and the United States against the Palestinians, despite protestations of solidarity. A commentary in Daily News Egypt asserts:

Egypt's insolent propaganda machine blames the victim and is satisfied with directing meek condemnations at the assailant who would have carried out the attack in all cases, driven by a military doctrine premised on aggression and expansion and internal political ambitions that thrive on Palestinian blood.

Moderate Arab regimes catch brunt of resentment
The Gaza war has sparked a flurry of urgent calls for Arab summits, as Al Jazeera reports. These are widely seen as a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing but the region's age-old curse of Arab disunity, editorializes Lebanon's Daily Star. The Jordan Times adds:

After almost three weeks, there has not been a unified Arab position. There has been no collective political initiative that could have turned the screws on Israel long before the unimaginably horrific images from Gaza came out, that have slowly forced the West to act.

In fact, Arab countries are still squabbling whether to convene an emergency summit. After three weeks.