SWC: Hollande Must Act to Reverse Orange Israel Boycott Move

Paris, 4 June 2015

Senior Simon Wiesenthal Center officials, Rabbis Marvin Hier, founder and dean and Abraham Cooper, associate dean, urged French President Francois Hollande to act to reverse Orange Telecom's Israel boycott move.  “We are calling on President Holland to intervene in this shocking betrayal of the world’s only democracy in the Middle East,” they said. “Make no mistake about it, the only reason that Orange is pulling out is the reason stated in Cairo by Orange’s CEO Stéphane Richard, 'We want to be one of the trustful partners of all Arab countries’, - Those comments clearly translate to buying into the Arab boycott and BDS of Israel,” they added.

In a related development in Paris, a letter was sent to the United Nations 193 member-state International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, by SWC Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, who expressed concern at, "Threats by Orange Telecom CEO, Stéphane Richard, to join the Arab boycott of Israel", continuing, “As the French government owns 25% of Orange, it is for France to keep its non-discriminatory and universalist responsibilities to the ITU Vision."

ITU’s “Committed to Connecting the World” Vision includes:

- ITU makes phone calls possible...ITU standards, protocols and international agreements are the essential elements underpinning the global telecommunication system.

- ITU powers the mobile revolution, forging the technical standards and policy frameworks that make mobile and broadband possible.

- ITU works with public and private sector partners to ensure that information and communication technologies (ICT) access and services are affordable, equitable and universal.”

Samuels argued, "Richard's statement: ‘We want to be one of the trustful partners of all Arab countries', presents a zero-sum, either/or, conclusion precluding fair-trade and evoking 1930s Western companies seeking to be 'partners of the Nazis' or those currently eager for sanctions-busting trade with Iran’.”

The Centre called on the ITU to, “Admonish France for the offensive language of its Orange Telecom Company and demand from its CEO an apology to the Jewish people, lest Jews worldwide invoke their client privilege by divesting from Orange."

For further information please contact Shimon Samuels 00 336 09 77 01 58,  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).