There are three major differences between the Lebanese War and previous Israeli wars (with the possible exception of the Sinai campaign of 1956). The first is that the Lebanese War didn’t focus on the interstate conflict between Israel and the Arab countries. It was a kind of revival of the old prestatehood, intercommunal conflict between Israelis and Palestinians—the
conflict over what Israelis call “the Land of Israel.”
Ben Gurion’s main contribution to Israeli political discourse was to get us to think in state terms rather than communal terms. This was possible because of the partition of Palestine, and because most of the Arabs who had lived in the territory that became Israel either left or were driven out of this territory. Israel became an approximate nation-state with a rather small Arab minority. Thus the partition and the demographic results of the 1948 conflict transformed the intercommunal conflict into an interstate conflict....
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