It takes only a few hours in the Arab world to sense that Israel has done enormous damage to its standing among moderate Arab regimes by the way it handled the recent war in Lebanon and the shelling of Lebanese refugees at Qana.
Jordan is a case in point. Jordan is not Egypt. King Hussein has fostered a warm peace with Israel. When Israel first engaged in a tit-for-tat border war with the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, Jordan quietly looked the other way. But then came Qana - the U.N. outpost in south Lebanon that Israel shelled, it says accidentally, in response to a Hezbollah rocket attack from the same area. In addition to killing 102 Lebanese civilians at Qana, Israel drove 400,000 Lebanese from their homes as part of a deliberate strategy to depopulate south Lebanon and force the Lebanese government to press Syria to cut a cease-fire deal.What bothered the Jordanians, and other Arabs, was not just the deaths at Qana but, worse, that Israel never really apologized. There was a perfunctory expression of "regret" for the loss of civilian life, but that was it: Sorry. War is hell. Accidents happen. Jordanian officials remarked that if Shiite guerrillas had killed 102 Israeli civilians with one burst of shellfire, President Clinton probably would have come for their funerals, but when it's Lebanese who are killed, Israel can get by with a simple expression of "regret."