The Orange, a French Company providing Mobile Phone and other data access systems, has some explaining to do after the Orange CEO Stephane Richard haughtily, brazenly and with great chutzpah postulated, “We want to terminate this and to fix this, we don’t want it. In the existing contract, it gives us the option to terminate this without exposing this to a huge financial risk. If you were the CEO of this company you would act the same.” One might understand their concern as the company had been receiving threats to their business from people in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Israel Movement) agitators in Egypt who were also attempting to drive people in Egypt to switch from Orange to another carrier until Orange capitulated. This campaign was likely moved largely forward by the well-organized but mostly ignored BDS groups in Europe who are fairly good at getting the media to cover their loud and infantile rantings as the media will run and inflate any anti-Israel, anti-Zionist or obliquely anti-Semitic political movement which pretty much is made up of the BDS movement, the Israel Apartheid movement, the pro-Palestinian hate Israel fests held annually on many university and college campuses and similar lesser items. Other than media coverage these groups are little more than a nuisance though they can get some of the people riled up and even changing their cell carrier company but it is most likely that after a week or two the entire boycott Orange threat would have simply dissipated like a spring shower which makes all the fury and noise of a thunderstorm but the end result is a light rain. Orange CEO Stephane Richard obviously got all worried and believing that he was about to lose his entire enrollment of customers in Egypt because of a flood of phone calls largely made by young agitators with more time on their hands than brains or influence making everything look far more dire than they were in actuality. It would not be surprising if the majority of the calls made claiming they were going to switch carriers for their cellphone service were not even made by people who have Orange as their carrier. If these BDS agitators were using actual Orange served cellphones, my bet is many of these BDS threats did not result in any cancellations and some might even have come from cellphones which you buy that have a fixed number of minutes and then are useless except for buying more time and these phones had used Orange. Well, such users as these are not actual cancellations, just calls made on a phone purchased using Orange simply to make their point and by using this method actually gave Orange an increased usership over this time and were not actually a threat.
It can be understood that losing any large number of Egyptian users of Orange plans would be a threat which could hurt Orange should it come to fruition. The one item that may have been left out of this attempted and thus far successful BDS threat is that the Egyptian customers are on contracts and cannot just change carriers like they might change shoes, there is a contract which leaves them obligated for an expressed time period. When their renewal time comes around is the time when changing carriers is easy and by then their threat to change companies will probably have dimmed to almost the last flicker of a sparkler and would pose more trouble than it would be worth just to make a political statement, and they would think they had called and made the threat to change and that would have to suffice. Any Egyptians who were driven so far as to drop their Orange coverage mid-contract are now facing the fact that they had a contract and Orange will remain being paid until that contract expires, a real problem if they had already signed with another company as they will be paying for two cellphone service providers for some time. The people who Orange was going to lose in Egypt have already made whatever moves they were planning and have left Orange. Any further damage would be minimal if the experience of other BDS targeted service providers in other markets. The number of people who will call a number and threaten to drop service from Orange that actually have Orange service and will actually follow through would have turned out to be minimal. Now that Orange CEO Stephane Richard has made an international incident out of what was likely no more than a ploy to get media coverage and look big hoping to get just that reaction from somebody high enough in Orange that the media coverage would now be front page across Europe, the Middle East and beyond has been realized. Orange CEO Stephane Richard has given the BDS movement legitimacy beyond their wildest dreams and caused a headache for their home nation of France. Orange executives could not have made a bigger mistake had they tried. Now you will lose your franchise in Israel while probably driving customers to your former partner and thus giving your competitors a boost, especially whomever the now free franchise in Israel plus this may ripple beyond Israel and have numerous pro-Israel customers leave Orange service quietly and without much fanfare over the next year. The only actual accomplishment here is that by their actions, Orange has empowered these BDS agitators who will now go after company after company by having their service users threaten to cancel and drop them from their service core using Arab nationals to make the threats hoping to force these companies into kowtowing to their blackmail. Think of what will be the eventual result once the BDS groups have targeted every cellphone service provider in Egypt in succession, one after another, until they have gone through the entire gamut of providers. That’s correct, the only one who will lose customers of any significance will be the last company they threaten as the Egyptians will have to get their cellphone service from somewhere and the BDS agitators are now perched to use Egypt to threaten every other provider. If they all react as Orange has then Israeli providers may as well come together and form one centralized mega-provider and perhaps start their own international cellphone provider based out of Israel and advertising to be the provider that will not fall before the paltry antics of a number of well-paid organizers and the people who succumb to such demagoguery but simply a cell phone service provider who is dedicated to serving you. In the end Orange may have done Israel a favor as once we have a competitor in every Orange covered nation outside the Arab Middle East I bet this competition will be the greater challenge to the Orange bottom line.
There will be an object lesson which may very well come from this episode, namely that running like a scared school girl from the BDS bogeyman will cause Orange greater harm in the long haul than standing their ground. Perhaps every Israeli application designer should figure out a way to make their apps unusable on Orange provided users phones which will eventually mean that there will be a plethora of popular apps which will be beyond Orange customers’ ability to use and eventually such a threat will bury Orange far faster than an Egyptian boycott which would probably have been minimal in the long run and simply a ton of sound and fury signifying little to nothing, just some grandstanding and now given some curtain calls on the stage upon which we all play. The BDS agitators and organizers are paid to attempt to make a big splash and have companies and organizations make sympathetic statements of support and that is about it but Orange gave them an actual victory, a move that may prove very damaging for Orange over the long haul and will give the BDS agitators some impetus for a while which will dissipate as other companies who are similarly threatened actually stand up to the bullies. The end lesson here will most likely be that Orange will see a sea change as people demand that their affiliates such as their former partner, Partner Communications, groups in Israel will seek greener pastures where their business will be beyond the effects from agitators as Orange has now shown weakness which is rarely a good business model. Orange has proven they can be scared by even the slightest challenge which says very little favorably about the upper management. Now that this ridiculous episode has spilled over exactly where the BDS agitators desired it to go, between the governments of France and Israel, Orange may find that the French government will be displeased with the difficulties which the actions by Orange has brought to their door, and it can never be a good thing to aggravate the government in your home base.
Now will start the questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his newly formed coalition as to what actions they will take resultant to this disgrace. Israel has been besmirched not only by a French wine drinking, truffle hunting, cheese eating, surrender monkeys whose weapons business advertisements are for lightly used rifles, never been fired but dropped once. Actually France is a lovely nation with some very wonderful sights and interesting places to visit including Tours where Charles Martel was given the moniker, Martellus (“The Hammer”), which has survived along with his great feat leading French troops against the invading Moors blunting their advance and rescuing the rest of France from great harm as the Moors had been sacking each city they defeated including Bordeaux. Charles the Hammer Martel will live forever which nobody remembers the ruler of Bordeaux except to recall Charles Martel coming to the rescue of France and savior of Europe. Now is a time to demand that France live up to their hero who changed the path of history by turning back the Moors at the Battle of Tours.
Some may inquire why bring the French government into this minor tussle with Orange. That is an easy question to strike the central reason on why France needs to answer for this slight, the French government owns a sizeable percentage of Orange and they receive benefits from the French government as such. When a government gets in bed with companies and supports these companies they become subject to the decisions and political moves which may require their intervention if only to protect the image of France. The Israeli government initially made a request for the French government to at least minimally rebuke this decision by Orange and seek to have them overturn their cowardly action. The French ignored or refused the polite request so Prime Minister Netanyahu and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked reacted angrily demanding an apology from the French government as CEO Stephane Richard had further backed his comments claiming that Orange will “make very little money” from their Israel franchise and that the sole reason they might not pull from the franchise was, “Sorry to say, but a dispute with Partner (Communications) when you have zero legal position in Israeli courts is not something that I would recommend for my company. I am not going to pay hundreds of millions of euros only because I would have (to) take a risk, a huge risk, in terms of the penalties that we could have if we entered into this kind of brutal process.” So, let see if we have this correct, Orange would desire nothing more than to terminate their agreement with an Israeli firm, Partner Communications, but will not do so as it might be costly. But when the whiny little agitators realized that you were easily influenced by their threats and had paid them tribute in word and not deed they turned back and demanded you go all the way and end your relations with Israel and you complied quickly and quietly. I don’t think you are going to get away with such perfidy silently sneaking like a thief in the night. Prime Minister Netanyahu made an official request with the French government demanding, “I call on the French government to publicly repudiate the miserable statement and miserable action by a company that is under its partial ownership. At the same time, I call on our friends to unconditionally declare – in a loud and clear voice – that they oppose any kind of boycott of the state of the Jews.”
What caused this confrontation with Orange initially, the very starting point? Well, the BDS agitators found out that Partner Communications, a subsidiary purchaser of its cell service time from Orange, provided IDF soldiers cellphones to use while they were on duty during the Gaza confrontation last summer responding to Hamas have kidnapped and murdered three teens and followed this up with raining upwards of a hundred rockets a day into Israel including reaching Tal Aviv, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, and other cities threatening every Israeli and causing very much turmoil and economic damages as people were forced to respond daily to numerous Code Red alert sirens where they are advised, some might say obliged, to take shelter until the all-clear is sounded. That was not even a program which had anything to do with Orange and their CEO could have addressed this entire spiraling insanity by simply pointing out that Orange sells cell coverage to Partner Communications and is not responsible or even capable of dictating business decisions to their subsidiary service provider as they are an independent company with whom Orange has a contract which requires us to provide services. Orange cannot be held to ransom for the business decisions of an otherwise unconnected company beyond having purchased coverage from Orange which, as it has already been purchased, is not something Orange is capable of cutting as such would be a breach of contract and would hurt Orange and not Partner Communications which is the company which made the business decision to which you refer. Orange appreciates our customers in Egypt but is unable to break our contract for providing services to Partner Communications as to do so would make a statement that Orange does not honor contract obligations if politically challenged over what a subscriber has decided was a good business model for their company. Orange is no more responsible for Partner Communications’ actions than it is for any Orange cellphone users actions. This is attuned to threatening to sue Orange because the driver of the car that struck you in an accident was talking on their Orange service provided cellphone. We sympathize but suggest you take up your concerns and threats of BDS with Partner Communications. Was that so hard to figure out or are the top brass at Orange not as smart as a mere editorialist? If so it does not speak well for their management and when something does not speak well for a cellphone service provider, that might be a bad signal of their future as speaking well is their business model, not just a management responsibility.
Beyond the Cusp