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WHY IS THIS ARAB-ISRAELI WAR different from all other Arab-Israeli wars? Because it's not an Arab-Israeli war. Most of Israel's traditional Arab enemies have checked out of the current conflict. The governments of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are, to say the least, indifferent to the fate of Hamas and Hezbollah. The Palestine Liberation Organization (Fatah) isn't a player. The prime mover behind the terrorist groups who have started this war is a non-Arab state, Iran, which wasn't involved in any of Israel's previous wars.
What's happening in the Middle East, then, isn't just another chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. What's happening is an Islamist-Israeli war. You might even say this is part of the Islamist war on the West--but is India part of the West? Better to say that what's under attack is liberal democratic civilization, whose leading representative right now happens to be the United States.
An Islamist-Israeli conflict may or may not be more dangerous than the old Arab-Israeli conflict. Secular Arab nationalism was, after all, also capable of posing an existential threat to Israel. And the Islamist threat to liberal democracy may or may not turn out to be as dangerous as the threats posed in the last century by secular forms of irrationalism (fascism) and illiberalism (communism). But it is a new and different threat. One needs to keep this in mind when trying to draw useful lessons from our successes, and failures, in dealing with the threats of the 20th century.