July 10, 2015 by Michael Kuttner
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At the beginning of June the CEO of French mobile provider, Orange, stated in Cairo that if he could get out of his company’s mobile business in Israel he would do so as quickly as possible…writes Michael Kuttner.

Michael Kuttner

Michael Kuttner

Needless to say this delighted the boycotters throughout the Arab/Muslim world as well and united Israel haters in western democracies and tin pot human rights abusing countries alike.

Following a firestorm of criticism and condemnation from the Israeli Government and various spokespersons, the Orange CEO Stephane Richard backtracked and said he was coming to Israel to affirm his company’s commitment to doing business there. He vehemently denied any intention to sever ties.

Duly arriving, he apologized profusely to all and sundry and amidst much groveling pledged his undying allegiance to continued connections.

So far so good.

Lo and behold a couple of weeks later it was announced that Orange would be paying a large sum to its Israeli franchise in order to cease doing mobile phone business here. They portray this as a simple commercial decision with no political ramifications whatsoever. It seems however that there is something distinctly “fishy” about the timing of this whole episode.

orangeOrange is owned by French Telecom which I suspect has many lucrative dealings with countries which do not recognize the Jewish State. France also funds NGO’s which engage in boycotting activities. Therefore one would have to be a trusting soul indeed to not believe in coincidences.

In an endeavor to clarify exactly what the Israeli Government thinks of this latest decision of Orange to cease associating with their local partners, I asked on behalf of J-Wire, the Prime Minister’s Office as well as the Economy Ministry for their reactions. One would expect that given the previous Orange assurances and now their reversal, someone somewhere in the corridors of power would be moved to comment.

Within 24 hours of my query to the PMO I received an email reply via the Government Press Office. Much to my amazement but not complete surprise, this merely regurgitated the statement issued on 12 June, expressing satisfaction that the Orange CEO had denied any intention to divest. Subsequent developments have made this obsolete but apparently neither the PM’s Office nor the Government Press Office have realized this fact.

The reaction from the Economy Ministry was even more predictable. There has NOT been any which means presumably that either they do not consider the subject important enough or the dysfunctional nature of those in charge has prevailed.

I searched high and low for some sort of Governmental announcement which would demonstrate that this latest display of Gallic chutzpah is going to be challenged. Alas there seems to be none.

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel where he is J-Wire’s correspondent.   




One Response to “Disconnecting”
  1. Stan Black says:

    One thing you can rely on with the French is that you can’t rely on them.
    To think they used to call the Brits ” perfidious albion.”

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