PV International Desk : Since its founding, Israel has seen itself as a modern-day Sparta, a tiny fortress nation-state in a hostile desert, whose survival depended on its internal cohesion and sheer military strength.
All around it were Arab and Muslim enemies who denounced the Jewish state as a colonising interloper, an outpost of foreign intruders who were bound to be evicted, sooner or later, like all of their predecessors back to the Crusaders.
But Israel’s back-to-back agreements to normalise ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to be marked in a signing ceremony at the White House on Tuesday — and the much-buzzed-about possibility that other Arab nations could follow suit — are causing some Israelis to ask whether a deeper shift may, after years in the making, finally be underway in the Middle East.
Could their country at last be gaining acceptance in the region as a legitimate member of the neighbourhood?
Formal diplomatic relations will mean a great deal to Israel after its long wait in isolation: the exchange of ambassadors, establishment of direct flights, new destinations for tourists once travel becomes possible again and the start or acceleration of a host of other commercial, cultural and scientific endeavours that until now could be conducted only in the shadows.