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Orange CEO apologizes for Israel pullout remarks in letter to French Jewish leader

WJC, In a letter to the president of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, the CEO of the French telecoms giant Orange, Stéphane Richard, apologized for his recent comments in Cairo "to pull out of Israel tomorrow, if possible" and said they were open to misinterpretation.

Stéphane RichardStéphane RichardRichard reiterated that Orange - the former France Télécom whose biggest shareholder is the French State - had no intention of closing down its activities in Israel.

In his letter to CRIF President Roger Cukierman, Richard wrote: "Allow me to express my profound apologies for the misleading statements I made in Egypt. I frankly recognize that they were open to misinterpretation and were also misused by some for their own ends. The result was a controversy over Orange and Israel which was disproportionate. I am particularly concerned by the impact of this on the Jewish community, and believe me, this has touched me personally in the most profound fashion."

Richard stressed that "Orange as an international company does not engage in any shape or form in political debates and is entirely focused on its business." He categorically rejected accusations that "Orange ceded to political pressure to ends its agreement with Partner in Israel." Partner is an independent Israeli company using the Orange brand name to provide mobile telephone services.

Richard denied reports that Orange wants to withdraw from the Israeli market. "I never said such a thing, as that would have been absurd," he wrote in his letter, asking the CRIF president for a meeting to explain the different activities of Orange Group in Israel.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that Richard arrived for a two-day visit to Israel to speak with officials and Orange staff on the ground.
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French Jewish leader laments ‘climate of anti-Semitism’

On the 70th anniversary of the French Jewish umbrella body CRIF, its leader Roger Cukiermanlashed out at both extreme-left and extreme-right parties, accusing them of fostering anti-Semitism.

WJC, The deadly shooting at Toulouse Jewish school in 2012 was a 'national tragedy' according to President Sarkozy
The French Jewish umbrella organization CRIFis celebrating the 70 years of its existence. A delegation by Jewish leaders led by World Jewish Congress Vice-President RogerCukierman, who heads the CRIF, was receivedon Monday in Paris by French PresidentFrançois Hollande.
In a series of interviews, Cukierman lamented a “climate of anti-Semitism” in France and singled out both extreme-right and extreme-left parties for contributing in different ways to increase resentment against Jews. He slammed the anti-Zionist attitude of the Leftist Front, an alliance of Socialist and Communist parties, and the fact that far-right leader Marine Le Pen had never distanced herself from controversial statements made by her father, the former National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who once called the Nazi gas chambers “a detail of the history of World War II.”
“Behind the National Front stand all the anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers,” Cukierman said in an interview with ‘RTL Radio’.
He also attacked the comedian Dieudonné, an outspoken supporter for the National Front, as an “anti-Semitism professional” who was using his reputation to “fabricate and disseminate anti-Semitism. That is very worrying,” the CRIF president said.
Receiving the CRIF delegation at the Elysée Palace, President Hollande said he understood the special bond of French Jews with Israel, which was “natural”. He also said that “France needs its Jews.”

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