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June 4, 2015 12:48 pm

American-Israeli Billionaire Haim Saban Strikes Back at Orange CEO Over Israel Boycott Comments

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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A mock Orange logo displaying the Islamic State insignia, after the company's CEO signaled readiness to adopt an Israel boycott. Photo: Twitter.

A mock Orange logo displaying the Islamic State insignia. The graphic appeared in Twitter after the company’s CEO signaled readiness to adopt an Israel boycott. Photo: Twitter.

The controlling shareholder of the Israeli mobile network that operates under the Orange name in Israel struck back at the French company’s CEO over comments he made indicating his readiness to sever ties with the Israeli operator.

Haim Saban, chairman and CEO of Saban Capital Group Inc., said in a message on Tuesday, “Threats will not deter me, I will continue to operate in Israel and lead the battle for Israel in the world.

“I am proud to be the controlling shareholder in Partner, which is an Israeli company that leases the Orange brand,” said the Egyptian-born businessman.

His comments came as Orange CEO Stephane Richard said he would cancel the contract with Partner as soon as possible were his company not legally bound otherwise, drawing international condemnation by Jewish groups and Israeli officials.

“Our intention is to withdraw from Israel,” Richard on Wednesday told Daily News Egypt. “It will take time … for sure we will do it … I am ready to do this tomorrow morning.”

Partner under Orange represents one of Israel’s biggest cell network providers, along with Pelephone and Cellcom.

The Orange CEO’s comments stem from criticisms especially in Europe of the French mobile giant for providing coverage to Israelis living in the West Bank, in areas which Palestinians claim for a future state.

But critics say Richard may be antisemitic and supporting the wider campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions from Israel.

Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev called on French President Francois Hollande to sack the Orange CEO.

“In light of the recent serious events in France, the French government must show zero tolerance for antisemitism,” she said, referring to several violent attacks this year rooted in antisemitism, such as the siege at a Paris Kosher supermarket by a lone gunman that left four hostages dead.

Former finance minister and Knesset party chairman Yair Lapid called on the French government, which owns substantial shares in the company, to distance itself from Richard’s comments.

“This is hypocrisy of the highest order. I don’t remember him having a problem making money here and profiting from Israeli citizens. The State of Israel is an island of sanity in this difficult neighborhood and we certainly won’t accept lessons in morality from someone so self-righteous and detached. I call upon the French government, which owns a substantial amount of shares in Orange, to distance itself from the irresponsible statements of the CEO.”

He called on Israeli officials to drum up a “professional response” to what he said was the growing threat of anti-Israel boycotts.

Jewish rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center demanded an “apology” from Richard and admonished the French government over his remarks.

“Orange divestment from Israel justified as ‘wanting to be one of the trustful partners of all Arab countries,’ evokes 1930s Western companies seeking to be ‘partners of the Nazis’ or those currently eager for sanctions busting trade with Iran,” said the center in a statement.

A near immediate #boycottorange campaign was also launched on social media following the Egyptian report of Richard’s comments, with many posting a mock Orange logo containing either the iconic yellow Jude star worn by Jews during Nazi occupation, or the Islamic State insignia.


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  • Al Hoffman

    D Day June 4?
    Who remembers?
    The timing for
    The behavior of
    Orange makes
    Me remember What
    I heard,
    And too odd, that
    the world never

  • Perhaps it’s time to start believing in God’s laws and God’s reasoning for why man is on this planet. We were created in his image and we are just keep distorting his image as every second passes. God once told somebody believe in me and the world will cease to exist as you see it. So maybe if we believe in God a little bit more the Arabs will eventually cease to exist in the world as we see it now. Maybe we should all start believing in the prayer where God says I will bring honey out of a rock.

  • What do you expect of the pusillanimous French?

    And, anyhow, readers of Algemeiner should prepare themselves more and more for expressions of European hostility towards the Jewish state – all of which expressions are a desire to please and appease Europe’s burgeoning Muslim population.

    Europe is Islamising !

  • Lynne T

    Anyone note the sick irony that Orange is — on behalf of an unnamed and ostensibly Egyptian party — screwing over a business partner who is an Egyptian born Jew whose citizenship and property rights were likely stripped in the 1950s by Nasser.

    Frankly, this is most likely about unnamed parties who don’t want to compete with Saban’s mobile franchise.

    In retaliation, it would be nice if hardware and software developers with presences in Israel said they will not sell products or services to Orange or any of its affiliates.







  • Ruvy

    It’s time to boycott France and other European nations, as well as others who support killing us off. This Frenchman is obviously like millions of other Frenchman, a Jew-hater who does not mind taking our money, and who is happy to spit at us. The French, and other Europeans, will only respect boycotts and loss of money. They are not interested in anything we have to say. They will respect when they have to grieve for their loved ones, and loss of their money. We need to take the lesson of their hatred of us and apply it against them!

  • RobiMac

    You go,Haim! And Elohim be with you!

  • Benny Berger

    US customers of the following Orange Telecom subsidiaries; please be sure to boycott them from now on and advise all your friends and colleagues too.

    Orange is present in the US through its Orange Business Services division and its venture capital arm, Innovacom as well as two R&D labs: one in Boston and the other in South San Francisco, California.

  • Benny Berger

    For consumers in the USA, please be sure to boycott the following Orange Telecom US-based subsidiaries.

    Orange is present in the US through its Orange Business Services division and its venture capital arm, Innovacom as well as two R&D labs: one in Boston and the other in South San Francisco, California.

  • June Grant

    Perhaps we should take note that Mr.Richard was in Cairo when he made the announcement to divest from Israel,thus joining the rest of the world’s useful idiots. It will doubtless gain him Brownie points and add to his self-righteousness.
    By the way, how does this help the Palestinians? It certainly doesn’t make them willing to negotiate peace with Israel since they hope the BDS movement’s aim to cripple Israel’s economy will gain them their desire. Nor will it make Israel willing to retreat to the 1948 armistice-Auschwitz lines,or absorb the millions of refugees and their descendants. It isn’t going to happen.

  • Peter

    It is very sad that someone in Stephane Richard position can lower himself to that degree!

  • M. dK

    First of all this CEO would never talke about occupation and settlements if he knew some history. There never was a country, state, piece of land, village or continent called palestine. There was/is no palestinian language, no palestinian national anthem, no palestinian capital and no palestinian currency.

    Second: Who is Orange to tell Israel what to do?
    If Orange was really pro-human why is Orange doing business with the arab/muslim countries where women/girls and non-muslims have no rights?

  • If I had any ability to advise Partner, I’d tell them to change their name from Orange to Blue&White. Not only would I continue to use their services, but I’d encourage other to as well!

  • Markus E Brajtman

    I am no politician. But would it not be better for Israel to tell them to “stuff it” and rename thie cell phone provider company, and not have to pay Orange for the “privilege of payinmg them royalties?

    When I was in Israel a few months ago, I was told not to buy Orange as they are very expensive,
    Instead, I went to another provider, who charged me a very low rate, and that I could make as many calls as I wanted for the full month.
    I was told that many Israels have dropped Orange in favour of the other supplier. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name, as I was interested only in what was best for me.
    SO> Who needs Orange??.

  • Lauren Goldman

    And yet, Jews rationalize staying in France, where they are instructed to not wear anything in public which may identify them as being Jewish, for their own safety. All of Europistan is daily becoming more perilous for us. Come to America; a nice stopover on the way to Israel.

  • Charles Oren

    Egyptians are proud and happy that they have persuaded Orange, a major international giant, to boycott Israel. They are confident that more will join their campaign against Israel. But how does this help Egypt? Will it create a single new job or fill even one stomach? Egypt needs to restore peace to the area to revive her tourist industry. They need to make their desert bloom so as to grow more food. They need modern agricultural methods and improved irrigation. These systems are available and Egypt will benefit when they open their doors to welcome them. Egyptians are not Arabs and so they do not need to become a part of the radical Arab world, like Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. They have enough problems already with Arabs in Sinai. Egypt should learn from the Chinese, who were once proud Communists until they realized that this merely leads to poverty. Now they are capitalists, very rich and rapidly becoming a major power.

    Charles Oren

    22 David Raziel

    Herzliya 4681222



  • VictorMc

    Personally, I dumped Orange years and years ago as an incompetent and expensive phone service provider. BEFORE they were even bought by France Telecom (run by the French government in effect)
    So all I have left is to boycott France as a holiday destination and their products. Let everyone do the same. Jews are leaving France in droves for this very reason. Awful country, awful people.

    • Sage advice I have already taken, I cancelled a trip to Burgandy for a 2 week wine tour with my wife and 3 other couples. All 8 of us decided if France can live and exist without us, we can exist without purchasing anything French.
      Actually there are better wines from California and Chile !
      From now on we look at labels and buy items not French.
      In the U.S. A major stock holder could force a board of directors to have a vote of ” No Confidence” in the CEO, and remove him from his position.

  • Ebenezer Samuel

    If these comments from Mr. Richard concerns the Arabs, a government statement would have been issued within hours but since it’s about Israel, nothing to worry about.

  • Ann levin

    Perhaps the time has come for us to boycott Orange Boycotts,work in two,directions…. . Consumers also have a voice!

  • The best way to combat the BDS boycott is to buy Blue and White. Orange Israel is owned by Chaim Saban so it is also Blue and White.

  • Haim should demand to take them at their word, they want out “tomorrow morning”. So Orange could be allowed to pull out from Orange Israel with the penalty of losing their full investment in Israel with no further claim, all investment to be henceforth transferred to Partner.
    This should assuage Orange’s conscience and stop the hand wringing although the shareholders may be a bit upset.
    Should Partner need stabilising financial assistance then the government should step in and if necessary take a stake.
    This would allow Richard to wash his hands immediately of his investments and at the same time keeping all profits in this successful Israeli enterprise firmly under Israeli control

  • steven L

    Either antisemitism, giving in willingly into blackmail or both.

  • SHmuel HaLevi

    Mr. Saban is one of the most active extremist “left” supporters ever. His tears now impress only the unaware.
    My cellular phone service is so far by ORANGE. I will change that Monday.
    Regardless of any attempt by the French government participating orange corp to cover up, our people must sternly act to harm the anti Semite trash.

  • Howard Borman

    I agree with califlefty completely. Divest stock and delist.

  • art

    Force the US to apply anti Boycott laws. Demand that Orange cease using any chips, programs, apps etc designed in Israel.

  • ed

    Get out of France while you can Jewish people come home to Israel

  • It’s time we woke up about the bully BDS, cowardly fanactics. Devoid of knowledge, inelegant use of ignorance. Dangerous in their stupidity. Israel must be defended.

  • HaroldT

    Will the French Jews now boycott Orange or will they lick Richard’s arse ! !

  • Jack HOLAN

    Put Mr Richard into a Limo with 2 escorts a 1st class ticket Air France to Paris ( I wouldn’t want him polluting an El Al Flight) If he objects drop him off in Gaza so he can get educated.

  • califlefty

    Divest your stock – demand it be delisted as per the antiboycott provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) apply to the activities of U.S. persons in the interstate or foreign commerce of the United States. The term “U.S. person” includes all individuals, corporations and unincorporated associations resident in the United States.

    Orange is listed on the NYSE Euronext Paris (symbol ORA) and on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol ORAN).

    • anthony Lefco

      Sue them big time. Partner invested a tremendous amount of money building the Orange name in Israel. Orange, in contravention of its obligations, deliberately and forcefully destroyed its goodwill in Israel to benefit in the “Arab World”. Partner should re-brand itself Blu/White.

      Its first commercial should be peeling and Orange and finding the fruit rotten, throw it in the trash.

    • Tzvi Allen Fishman

      Lets see if we can get Verizon to invest and become the new partner to Partner.

      How ludicrous. Orange/Partner Israel, services not just Jews on the West Bank but Arabs in Arab Villages as well.
      So does Cellcom and Pelephone When you visit the Cellcom service center in Jerusalem, its filled with Arabs who are dealt with politely and equally and efficiently.

    • zg

      I support that action.