Wiesenthal Centre Enquiry into Royal Quartz / Galeries Lafayette Employee Hate Incitement at Paris Orly West Airport Sales Outlet

January 3, 2019


In an exchange of letters with Watches Division Director-General, Arthur Lemoine, at Galeries Lafayette stores, Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed outrage on behalf of its French members, who “brought to our attention an abuse of your outlets to foment antisemitism, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, endorsed by France.”

The letter noted, “On 26 October 2018, a couple, about to board a flight to Israel, purchased a watch from your Royal Quartz outlet at Paris Orly West airport.”

The Centre stated, “To their horror, the sales bill was printed as ‘To TLV Ben Gurion - Tel Aviv... Palestine Occupé, Territoire (Occupied Palestinian Territory)... You have been served by Hinda’.” (pictured)

“Lemoine shared with us a letter to the company’s lawyer, claiming that they were not in a legal position to dismiss [Hinda], given the presumption of innocence,” noted Samuels.

In another letter, Lemoine stated, “Our software provider, CEGID, provided us a predefined list of countries... Israel as ‘Israel’, Palestine as ‘Territoire Palestinien Occupé’ (Occupied Palestinian Territory). Our saleswoman, according to her own statement, selected this field by mistake and without malicious intent.”

Samuels turned to CEGID CEO, Pascal Houillon, who claimed, “We were made aware of the situation by our client in mid-December,” that is, stressed Samuels, “two months after the incident.”

Houillon explained that “Louis Pion [now linked to Royal Quartz] chose CEGID software in 2007,” with a predefined countries list, based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This list included ‘Palestine Occupied Territory,’ but in 2013, more disturbing, ISO changed the name to ‘State of Palestine’.”

CEGID continued, “We regret that our client did not consequently update the country list.”

More importantly, emphasized the Centre, CEGID insisted, “This data referring to ‘nationality’ is a human manual selection independent from the airport of destination that is registered with the boarding card.”

Samuels was troubled by the position that the “saleswoman, [Hinda], according to her own statements, selected this field by mistake and without malicious intent.”... “it was unbelievable that out of almost 200 sovereign states and non-sovereign entities, she would have ‘selected’ the one entry set to delegitimize the Jewish State.”

“If her action is not to be repeated by other parties,” the Centre suggested that, “Hinda come forward to publicly apologize to the Jewish people for placing Galeries Lafayette in this invidious situation,”... “Mr. Lemoine, this gesture would be in honour to your own Jewish forbears who founded Galeries Lafayette and which was to be ‘Aryanized’ by the Nazi occupation. As also, in the spirit of your French Resistance family and uncle named by Yad VaShem in Jerusalem as a Righteous Gentile.

“Failing such a statement and her continued employment, we can only respond to our international constituency's outrage, by advising that they invoke their right to choose and they so inform their friends and contacts in regard to Royal Quartz and Galeries Lafayette,” concluded Samuels.

The Centre has written to José Baltar, Secretary of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to learn the requirements and procedure for acceptance and rejection of politicized names for countries and territories such as "Palestine"

For further information, contact Shimon Samuels at +33 147 237 637, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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