As the greatest outbreak of Israel-Palestinian hostilities in years unfolds in Gaza, many Israelis are bracing for reaction from the surrounding Arab world. Theories abound, but no one has been entirely sure how the weakening and collapse of Arab autocracies over the past two years will impact the Jewish state.

The answer is likely to underwhelm.

For over six decades, Israel stood alone as the most vilified antagonist in Arab public life. Governments, media and civic groups singled out the Jewish state as a standing crime against humanity, while glorifying or ignoring mass murderers such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi. Outside observers assumed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be such a visceral affront to Arabs everywhere as to account almost single-handedly for their collective political dysfunction. Arab anger toward Israel “weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes,” warned U.S. CENTCOM commander David H. Petraeus in 2010. Take away those “moderate” regimes — such as Hosni Mubarak’s government in Egypt — and Israel would presumably be in a world of trouble.

In fact, while the Arab Spring has invigorated nearly every other revanchist political cause under the sun, thus far it hasn’t unleashed a surge of anti-Zionist fervour.

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