Employees at Orange Israel Drape Offices in Massive Israeli Flags After French CEO Remarks
Employees of French mobile carrier Orange hung Israeli flags around their Tel Aviv headquarters on Thursday after the company confirmed it would cease doing business in Israel, French-Israeli blog Tel-Avivre reported on Friday.
The website published photos of Orange employees rallying inside their office building and waving Israeli flags as more blue and white banners hung from above. One image shows the entrance of the building masked with a goliath Israeli flag stretching from the roof to the sidewalk.
Throughout Israel, Orange’s billboards were also covered with Israeli flags and the phrase #BoycottOrange began trending on Twitter, the BBC reported.
The redecoration by employees of the Orange office in Tel Aviv amounted to a forceful protest against the company’s decision to pull out of a longstanding deal with Partner Communications, its associate that provides cell phone service in Israel. Orange CEO Stephane Richard announced his endorsement of the boycott of Israel at a press conference Wednesday in Cairo, and the company confirmed the plan on Thursday. Orange denied that its decision was politically motivated.
One Orange employee named Dan, said he believes the company’s decision was a mistake. He told Tel-Avivre, “Orange is spending millions in Israel and especially in search boxes and development to improve its products. [Richard] should think twice before deciding publicly” to end business relations with its Israeli partner.
On Wednesday Richard said, “I am ready to abandon this [partnership] tomorrow morning but the point is that I want to secure the legal risk for the company.”
“I want to terminate this, once again, but I don’t want to expose Orange to a level of risk and of penalties that could be really sizable for the company,” he added.
Richard implied that Orange’s business in Israel presented challenges for its contracts in Arab countries, including Egypt. He explained, “I know that it is a sensitive issue here in Egypt, but not only in Egypt. We want to be one of the trustful partners of all Arab countries.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded sharply to Richard and called on the French government to “publicly repudiate the miserable statement and action by a company under its partial ownership.” He also asked those who support the Jewish state to “unconditionally declare in a loud and clear voice” that they oppose any boycotts of Israel.