On the calendar, a little more than five years separate the attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor in July 2007 and the strike on Syria this week (according to foreign reporters, of course). In reality, the two episodes are light years away.
At the time of that first attack, there was complete quiet here.
Syria was calm, too, Israel was licking its wounds from the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah was in his bunker, the borders were quiet.
You could hear a pin drop, if it dropped.
In a situation like this, dispatching eight F-16s to knock out a nuclear plant was an unusual and conspicuous act. It was like breaking into a stranger's house and leaving burning coals on the decorative carpet in the living room.
This week, the situation is exactly the opposite. The living room is going up in flames, everything is exploding, Syria is breaking up, tens of thousands have been killed, Hezbollah fighters have been sucked into the chaos, and then there's the Revolutionary Guards, global jihad, al-Qaida and the rest of the world.
No one is supposed to notice that several jets destroyed a military installation or a weapons convoy going from A to B. There is no shortage of demolished buildings in Syria at the moment.
Yet still, it's not simple. In our region, Arabs are allowed to attack each other and kill each other as much as they like. When we join the party, it's something else entirely.
If he had responded in 2007, Syrian President Bashar Assad could have lost his whole world.
Today, he doesn't have much to lose. His whole world is being destroyed in a live broadcast.
On the contrary, as when a fire erupts in an oil well, sometimes the only way to extinguish the flames is through a large explosion.
Confronting the IDF, missiles on Tel Aviv, drawing Iran into the chaos, might all suddenly create alternative energies that somehow extend the desperate Syrian ruler's lifespan.
With Hezbollah, the situation is different. It acts according to the instructions of Tehran. And there, in Tehran, they know that the moment of truth hasn't come, not yet.
They were enraged by the previous round of fighting, in which Nasrallah pulled himself into the Second Lebanon War and, at the wrong time, wasted a significant portion of the arsenal that Iran was collecting with him.