By Jenni Frazer
The deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, suggested that there should be a boycott of Orange phone products in response to the remarks of the company’s chief executive about working with Israel.
Robert Halfon was speaking at the UK-Israel Shared Strategic Challenges Conference in London, after remarks of chief executive, Stephane Richard, declared that he would terminate a licensing agreement with Israel’s Partner Communications “tomorrow morning” if he were able. Though he subsequently visited Israel and issued an apologetic clarification, Mr Halfon said bluntly that perhaps it was time to boycott Orange in response.
Halfon said: “Israel has used Orange phone technology for many years, but for the head of Orange to say that he wished Orange were not in Israel, after having provided the service for many years, in order to try and get business with Arab countries, I think was incredibly damaging and incredibly distressing.”
“It doesn’t matter that he subsequently apologised. It was the fact that the head of Orange actually said this in the first place. 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. 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”.
The MP, a long-standing member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, told the conference – organised by Jewish News and partnered by Bicom – that Israel was losing the PR war “by hundreds of miles. Extreme anti-Israel remarks have become mainstream and part of our discourse.”