The BDS campaign against the Orange mobile phone network in Israel (hereafter Partner Communications, the official name of the Israeli firm; Orange is the France-based company) is another example of NGO political warfare targeting the Jewish state.
The attacks on Partner Communications began in earnest at the beginning of May, when a coalition of French NGOs, along with the Palestinian NGO Al Haq, published “Orange’s Dangerous Liaisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” a 51-page report. This publication was accompanied by intensive lobbying of the French government, the French company Orange, and the Palestinian Authority.
The NGOs “were pleased that on 26 May 2015, they were finally able to meet with Orange. They noted the fact that Orange recognises that having business relations with Partner poses risks to the company’s reputation. The representative of Orange recalled that an amendment was made in March 2015 to the brand-licensing agreement that would allow it to terminate the agreement in ten years. The civil society groups did not feel that this response was satisfactory. Nonetheless, the authors of the report asked Orange to publicly and explicitly state its decision to disengage and to denounce the human rights violations that Partner is involved in in Israeli settlements in the OPT.” In other words, the statements made by the France-based company are a wholesale adoption of the NGOs’ BDS agenda (which is illegal in France).
They also enlisted the Palestinian Authority in the campaign: “Following the publication of the report, Saeb Erekat, lead negotiator of the Palestinian Authority (PA), wrote to France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, to denounce the link between Orange and Partner.”
NGOs including Who Profits, Al Haq, Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development-Terre Solidaire (CCFD), FIDH, and Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) have been involved in the campaign against Orange and Partner Communications:
Funded by Trocaire (Ireland), Nova (Spain), ICCO (Netherlands), Medico International (Germany), Fagforbundet (Norway), Who Profits is a project originally created by Coalition of Women for Peace “in response to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.” (Who Profits is now registered separately). Who Profit’s publications and photos are used extensively throughout the French report (see below).
- Beginning in 2009, Who Profits began a campaign against Partner Communications and other Israeli cellphone carriers for allegedly being “commercially involved in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights” and “exploit[ing] the Palestinian frequencies and to impose their services on the Palestinian captive market.”
- Who Profits maintains a unique webpage dedicated to Partner Communications, which has been updated over the years. Reflecting an extreme political agenda opposed to Israeli self-defense, the latest additions are unconnected to supposed commercial involvement in the West Bank and Golan: “As part of its social responsibility policy, the company sponsored two Israeli military units for several years. Under the framework of the ‘Adopt A Soldier’ project, the company supported the Ezuz armored battalion and the Shachar search and rescue unit, through the provision of sports days, entertainment activities and training. During the attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014, Partner was on the front lines providing material support, cellular services and entertainment to the Israeli soldiers. The company also waived service fees for soldiers carrying [sic] the assault during July-August 2014” (emphasis added).
NGOs Involved in the France Campaign
CCFD received a three-year grant of €770,032 from France in April 2014.
- In a conference on the conflict, CCFD officials declared that the Palestinians “resist, […] also taking up arms, driven by despair to their hopeless situation.”
- CCFD is a member of the pro-BDS Platform of French NGOs for Palestine.
- CCFD also funds highly politicized and biased NGOs, including Zochrot (right of return) and Breaking the Silence (Israeli war crimes).
FIDH’s government funders include: EU, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
- During the 2014 summer conflict in Gaza, FIDH together with other French organizations, falsely accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians and contributed to the NGO lobby for prosecuting Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court. In July 2014, FIDH participated in the NGO campaign at the UN Human Rights Council to promote the establishment of a commission of inquiry on alleged crimes committed by Israel.
Al Haq is funded directly by the governments of Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Ireland, and indirectly by UK, Sweden, Germany, and the UN.
- Al Haq is a leader of lawfare and BDS against Israel. A main actor in the NGO campaign to file war crimes charges against Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- Central activities include filing of lawsuits and submitting anti-Israel reports to the UN Human Rights Council and other international bodies, such as “Feasting on the Occupation,” (2013) calling on the European Union and “relevant United Nations (UN) bodies” to boycott Israeli produce.
- In “Legitimising the illegitimate” Al Haq proposed sabotaging the Israeli court system by “flooding the [Israeli Supreme] Court with petitions in the hope of obstructing its functioning and resources.”
- The Israeli Supreme Court has identified Al Haq’s general director Shawan Jabarin as “among the senior activists of the Popular Front terrorist organization.”
Received €139,550 from the French government in 2012-2014. AFPS is active in organizing BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.
- AFPS refers to the “Gaza extermination camp” and states that “It is inconceivable and unacceptable that the ‘Jewish-executioner’ would hide behind the ‘Jewish victim!’” Other AFPS rhetoric includes ethnic cleansing, apartheid state, and “Stop hunting Palestinian children!”
- In 2011, AFPS was sued by SodaStream’s exclusive distributor in France for making distorted claims about the company’s products. On January 28, 2014, a French court ruled against AFPS, concluding that the NGO falsely alleged that SodaStream was selling its products illegally in France.
- In March 2013, a French appellate court dismissed a lawsuit brought by the PLO and AFPS against Alstom, Alstom Transport, and Veolia Transport, claiming that they were complicit in violations of international law by Israel through their involvement with building the Jerusalem Light Rail. The court rejected these demands, finding both a lack of standing and a failure to allege a cause of action. In particular, the court noted that the light rail was not illegal because occupation law allows for the building of transportation infrastructure. The Court also noted that the determination of a contract’s legality cannot hinge on “the individual assessment of a social or political situation by a third party.”