British Parliament Member Suggests Boycotting Orange in Response to CEO’s Comments on Israel
British Member of Parliament Robert Halfon suggested boycotting French mobile carrier Orange in response to remarks made recently by the company’s chief executive in favor of cutting business ties with Israel, the UK’s Jewish News reported on Tuesday.
The deputy chairman of the British Conservative Party blasted Orange CEO Stephane Richard for saying he would terminate a licensing agreement with Israeli carrier Partner Communications “tomorrow morning” if he could.
Halfon, while speaking at the UK-Israel Shared Strategic Challenges Conference in London, organized by the Jewish News, called Richard’s comments “incredibly damaging and incredibly distressing” considering that Orange has provided service to Israel for several years but now wants to increase its business with Arab countries.
He also said Richard’s subsequent apology “doesn’t matter.”
“It was the fact that the head of Orange actually said this in the first place,” explained the MP, who is also a member of Conservative Friends of Israel. “It’s [apparently] alright to have phone networks in totalitarian regimes, but in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, the head of Orange said that he wished his company were not in Israel.”
He added, “If I was an Israeli I would not use Orange ever again. In fact we should boycott Orange rather than the other way round. But it’s symptomatic of the boycott campaign.”
Halfon also told the conference that Israel was losing the public relations war “by hundreds of miles” and that “extreme anti-Israel remarks have become mainstream and part of our discourse.”