Calls for a BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israel continue to be voiced among mainstream churches, mainstream media, celebrities like Alice Walker, teachers’ unions such as that in Ireland, anti-Israeli politicians, and the narrow-minded academics who are paid to be supposedly open-minded. It is refreshing to learn from recent revelations, largely ignored by mainstream media, that the boycott by Arab nations against Israel is more honored in the breech than in the observance.
Arab nations, mainly the oil-rich majority-Sunni countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council GCC), have become increasingly aware that the danger to them and to their existence comes not from Israel, but from Iran, with its aggressive Shia leadership and nuclear threat, and from Islamist extremists becoming more prominent in a number of countries. Indeed, the very existence of the GCC stems from initial appreciation of that threat. It was founded in May 1981 by six countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates [UAE], and Saudi Arabia) in the context of concern about the Shia Islamist extremists coming to power in Iran and by the Iran-Iraq War.
Though technically the GCC is a loose political and economic alliance based on similar political and cultural identities of the six countries, a common concern was the need to provide a better security framework for them. In spite of publicly stated differences with Israel, the GCC countries have secretly exchanged with it security and intelligence information and options for policy concerning that threat. Israel has been asked by the GCC to be one of its links to the United States.
In general, the GCC has over the years adhered to an anti-Israel position and even to anti-Semitic utterances. Yet that position was sometimes qualified not only by moderation for practical reasons, but to a considerable degree by dislike of the GCC for Yasser Arafat for the support he gave to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who had invaded Kuwait, and by their disquiet when Iraqi scud missiles fell on Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as well as on Tel Aviv.
Some small normalization of relationships took place after the signing of the Oslo Accords and the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestinians in September 1993, and again after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The Gulf States promised to end the secondary and tertiary Arab boycott against Israel.
The GCC can be considered less hostile to Israel than are other Arab countries. None of them has waged war against Israel, though Saudi Arabia did send token forces in the Arab-Israeli wars. None of them has territory contiguous with Israel or has any practical reason for conflict with it. However, since the members of the GCC can conduct their own foreign policies, their relationships with Israel are not identical, and some of them are more cordial toward Israel than others.