Sunday, November 15, 2009

Intel, Jerusalem, and Shabbat Riots

Intel Corporation.

Synonymous with "success", this superpower of a high tech company was at the forefront of bringing "hi-tech" to Israel, and was a crucial factor for the success of Israel's at attracting serious technology ventures.

What does this have to do with Shabbat riots in Jerusalem? Keep reading.

Intel came to Israel as a result of one person, the visionary and legendary Dov Frohman.

Frohman was born on March 28, 1939 in Amsterdam -- his parents, Polish Jews, were Abraham and Feijga Frohman. In 1942, the Nazi grip on Holland’s Jewish community tightened, so Dov's parents decided to give their child to acquaintances in the Dutch resistance who placed him with an orthodox Christian farming family who hid him during the war. Dov's parents died in the Holocaust.

Located by relatives at an orphanage in Israel after the war, he was war adopted by relatives, grew up in Tel Aviv, served in the Israeli army, and in 1959, enrolled at the Technion - Israel's Institute of Technology to study electrical engineering.

After graduating from the Technion in 1963, Frohman traveled to the US to study for his masters and Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1969, after completing his Ph.D., he took a job at a foundling "startup" company, Intel Corporation.

It was while troubleshooting a fault in an early Intel product that Frohman in 1970 developed the concept for the EPROM, the first semiconductor memory that was both erasable and easily reprogrammable -- even when power was turned off it would remember what was stored on it. The EPROM became an international cornerstone for all electronics on the planet, propelling Intel towards become a global technology leader.

Many people in a similar situation would simply take their earnings, profits, bonuses, and retire.

Not Dov.

He used his leverage as inventor of the EPROM, to convince Intel of the impossible -- to establish a small R&D chip design center in Haifa. Dov made aliya, moved to Israel, and set up Intel’s first research lab outside the United States -- in Israel. Intel management thought he was crazy, but it was hard arguing with the inventor of the EPROM. While the R&D center in Haifa was a success, Dov wasn't content -- and he convinced Intel to create "Fab-8" -- a manufacturing facility for Intel semiconductor computer chips in Jerusalem.

At the heart of Fab-8 was the "clean room", where the computer chips were made -- over a thousand times cleaner than an operating room in a hospital; where even the smallest of dust particles could ruin a production run.

And there was a mezuza on the entrance to the clean room -- probably the only world-class clean room on the planet with a mezuza on its entrance.

The complexity of running a state-of-the-art clean room meant that you couldn't simply turn off ovens which grow the silicon wafers on Friday afternoon and restart restart them after the Shabbat on Saturday night -- they need to run around the clock.

While no production was actually running at Fab-8, there was s skeleton crew walking around ensuring that nothing was overheating, exploding or causing a life-threatening emergency.

The problem for Intel was that each production facility was compared to the other plants, and Jerusalem's Fab-8 plant wasn't running on Shabbat -- thereby reducing their factory output by 1/7th compared to the rest of Intel's plants which ran 7 days a week.

Intel did their best, using ingenuity, process, smarter ways of working -- even innovative "shabbat clock" robotic operation to help compete with the other plants, yet Intel presented Israel with an ultimatum in 1995. Intel wanted to build another, brand new plant in Israel, but on the condition it would be open on Shabbat.

Intel knew this would never pass in Jerusalem, and looked around Israel for alternatives. The cash-strapped town of Kiryat Gat, just 30 minutes south of Beit Shemesh was more than happy to let Intel work on Shabbat -- if only they would bring thousands of jobs to their town. Yitzchak Rabin's government had absolutely no problem letting Intel operate on Shabbat, so the deal was stuck -- Fab-18 would be built in Kiryat Gat, and would operate 24 hours a day.

The ramifications would be that it would extremely difficult for religious Jews to work at Intel's latest Fab-18 factory, knowing that the company worked on Shabbat, the cafeteria would be open on Shabbat, and they might even be assigned for shift work on Shabbat.

Yet Kiryat Gat is far away from the Jerusalem Chareidi mindset...

The aging Fab-8 Jerusalem plant slowly ramped down its production as it couldn't compete with the latest technology and manufacturing process needed for next generation computer chips -- the Jerusalem plant basically closed down a few years ago.

Yet in a stunning decision, Intel decided to rededicate the Intel Jerusalem plant, revamp it completely, so that it would be able to be part of the manufacturing process again -- not the same sort of work at what's going in Kiryat Gat, but in the "dumber" type of technology -- the type done at Intel's Far-East plants.

Today, Intel dedicated the newly refurbished plant here in Jerusalem...and while the previous Fab-8 plant used to forbid work in Jerusalem on Shabbat except for a skeleton crew, rumors about that the new plant will be working on Shabbat.

And then....boom.

Someone mentioned this to Chareidi community's askasnim, prompting threats of a riot this coming Shabbat.
Last minute attempts to prevent the Intel demonstration had failed after MK Uri Maklev (UTJ) met on Thursday with Intel Israel general manager Maxine Fassberg in the Knesset, together with Speaker Reuven Rivlin.

Maklev's spokesman said after the meeting that while he appreciated the importance of bringing jobs to the capital, protecting the sanctity of Shabbat was more important. "Fassberg, meanwhile, apparently puts the value of employment and production before the Shabbat," said the spokesman, who added that Fassberg had promised to look into operating the factory with non-Jewish staff.

Maklev was scheduled to meet with leading rabbis to discuss how best to respond to Fassberg's suggestions. (JPost)

Too late.

This past Shabbat, Ultra Orthodox Chareidi Jews encroached upon Jerusalem's silicon valley, Har Hotzvim neighborhood, and rioted.

The JPost continues:
Shouting "Shabbes, Shabbes!" some 2,000 haredim demonstrated outside the Intel Corporation's offices in Jerusalem's Har Hotzvim industrial park on Saturday to protest the company's operation of its factory on the Jewish day of rest.

The protest began peacefully in the morning but deteriorated into violence in the afternoon when several hundred demonstrators began attacking journalists, pushing and stoning them.

Demonstrators assailed Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) upon his arrival, complaining that he had failed to prevent the desecration of the holy day.

Additional police were deployed in the vicinity to prevent motorists from driving into the protest area, but they kept their distance from the demonstrators to avoid agitating them, police sources said.

According to a police spokesman, the great majority of demonstrators left voluntarily after a couple of hours, but about 300 protesters remained at the site for a time. They were later dispersed by police, who did not need to resort to force.
Intel Corporation in the USA is anxiously observing, wondering what sort of mess they have gotten themselves into.

Intel is leaking statements to the Jerusalem Post like this:

Sources at Intel told The Jerusalem Post that stopping the production process could severely damage productivity and endanger the feasibility of Intel's operations in both Jerusalem and Kiryat Gat.

Publically, Intel Israel's spokesman Koby Behar said, "We at Intel Israel are operating in accordance with our business needs and in accordance with the law."

Yes, Rabin's government gave Carte-Blanche to Intel in the mid-90's to work on Shabbat in Kiryat Gat, and I assume this has rolled over to Jerusalem.

Maklev's spokesman said in response that Intel was breaking the Work and Rest Hours Law by employing Jews on Shabbat.

"Intel has not received a permit to work on Shabbat," said the spokesman.

The law prohibits the employment of Jews on Shabbat. Exceptions are made for those who work national security, public health or other sensitive fields, but commerical firms must prove that serious hardship would result from interrupting production and must receive a special permit from the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

I assume that the Intel plant in Kiryat Gat has the special permit from the Labor Ministry, yet I don't know if the Jerusalem plant, reopened today has one.

Who's responsible? Many parties.

1. Rabin's government couldn't care less about the impact of opening Intel in Kiryat Gat in the mid-90s on Shabbat -- nor did they care about the impact on religious high-tech workers. Its a slipperly slope once you permit a commercial, for-profit company to blatantly work on Shabbat.

2. Intel Jerusalem. Instead of releasing banal statements that "Intel works within the framework of the law" that jar on the nerves of the Chareidi population (which surrounds Intel and the Har Hotzvim neighborhood), they should have focused more on real solutions, like the one proposed by Intel Israel's general manager Maxine Fassberg, to have a non-Jewish staff man the plant on Shabbat

3. The Chareidim. A quiet demonstration of tens of thousands, not throwing rocks, not screaming "shabbiss", would have a far greater effect with a likelihood of a mutual resolution to this mess.

Israel managed to work out a solution with the Chareidi population over the Jerusalem parking lot riots a few weeks ago -- and I hope for everyone's sake that a similar solution can be found quickly.

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Gee a Moron said...

It burns me up that a bunch of Chareidi hooligans can find the heter to protest at Intel Har Hotzvim (instead of being with their families for Shabbat lunch) and to smash car windows, facility doors, etc. I’d rather that Intel didn’t work on Shabbat but this vigilante group is not going to be mikarev the management.

I have a suggestion for Intel management that will put an end to it. It will cost a few shekels but small change compared to the security costs that the present situation entails. Intel should take out full page ads in both the Chareidi and secular press. If the Chareidi papers refuse to run the ads so much the better. The secular press will pick up on it as a news story and all but run the ads for free.

In these ads Intel should say that they are interested in shalom bayit with the Chareidi community and they appreciate their concern for being willing to give up their Shabbat to come work as security guards protecting the Intel plant. Intel wants to pay every one of their new “security consultants” who came out this past week. Accordingly they have gathered all the news footage/film available in order to identify their new “employees” and to compensate them appropriately for their “work”.

Intel should open a separate bank account and deposit into said account two hours (minimum) wage + social benefits times the number of people that were present. The advertisement should ask everyone who was present to submit a photograph of themselves + identifying details (e.g. teudat zehut, bank account #) so that they can be paid. The photos can be compared to the film and for every face matched payment can be released from the escrow account.

You will now have all the demonstrators with the chashash (taint) of “working” (rachmana litzlan) on Shabbat (shomu shamayim).

Any money not claimed should, after a reasonable time period (six months?), be donated to the Eida Chareidis. Let’s see if they turn it down…

NormanF said...

Whatever people do in private is between them and G-d. But the public character of Shabbat must be honored in the Jewish State. Profits must take a back seat to showing respect for G-d and His Torah.

Gary said...

what are you talking about?

ProfK said...

Let's leave aside for a moment the Intel problem with opening their facility on Shabbos. From what I can gather the chareidim who so actively protested ON SHABBOS were themselves guilty of being m'chalel Shabbos. Yup, asked a rabbi a hypothetical using the scenario from the protests and he didn't even hesitate before he said "Ossur."

So, the chareidim are being m'chalel Shabbos to protest Intel's being m'chalel Shabbos? Any one see a problem here? Two wrongs aren't going to make a right.

Sol said...

From what i read in another news report, Intel has had the yerushalayim offices open on shabbat for quite some time. It is just that they added a new facility with additional jobs that brings this to the forefront.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I do not support rioting by any means, but I am one proud Charedi who will make sure his next computer has an AMD or other non-Intel chip.

I've been happier over the years with my AMD units anyway and now I know not to buy another Intel as I do not want to contribute to chilul Shabbos in Y-m.

What is more, I'll bet there is a private religious entrepreneur in EY or abroad who could lease both the Y-m and KG facilities from Intel or operate them on a net lease for Intel as a subcontractor and do more and better work than Intel does in both places now, with no chilul Shabbos at all.

Jameel said...

Sol: I believe that information is patently false -- to the best of my knowledge, the Y-Lem office never worked from a production perspective on Shabbat, and was only open with the minimal safety and security personnel ensuring that nothing got out of hand.

Anonymous/Proud Chareidi: Its a sfek-sfeika.

The next computer chip you want to buy is not definitely made in Israel...and even if it were, there's no guarantee that there was chilul shabbat in the making of that particular chip.

I think you severely underestimate the financial power of Intel -- its exports from Israeli are 1.83 Billion dollars a year. I think you'll be hard pressed to find a "private religious entrepreneur" willing to take on such a project (and Intel would never lease out their plants, due to confidentiality)

Intel Outside said...

Is $1.83 Billion docheh Shabbat?

Zayin said...

All these haredim are an embarrassment to Jews all over the world. Their conduct over the past several years has been deplorable and completely against the traditions of Judaism. If Intel's work does not interfere with their lives, let them be! Everyone should be responsible for themselves in fulfilling their religious duties. No one is forcing workers to work on Shabbos. I doubt Intel would fire anyone for refusing to do so. These protesters just need a cause to fight about, and this is a convenient reason. I am sorry if I am not making sense, but it is acts like this that make me tell my non-Jewish friends that I feel more comfortable in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem than in Mea Sharim.

Anonymous said...

No one is forcing workers to work on Shabbos. I doubt Intel would fire anyone for refusing to do so.

Or not hire them in the first place?

Erwin said...

Zayin: Intel made it extremely uncomfortable for me to work there if I wasn't willing to work on Shabbat.

I eventually quit because they made my life so miserable.

S. said...

I was asked (in Jerusalem) if I was prepared to worked on Shabbos!

I answered, only in a clear case of Pikuach Nefesh.

But what kind of Pikuach Nefesh could there possibly in my field - much less any need at all to work on Shabbos in my field?

I am sure it was illegal for them to ask me that question, but they saw no problem with it.

It certainly made me very uncomfortable.

Commenter Abbi said...

Intel outside: We are not living in halachic state that is legislated by Torah. No on is forcing YOU or any other religious Jews to work on Shabbat.

The shabbat laws that are in place are there to "maintain the Jewish character of the state". They are not meant to force people to observe shabbat.

The fact is, nearly every city in Israel has businesses that are open on Shabbat. Ranaana has cafes and pharmacies open on the edges of town and in the mall open and everything in town is closed. I don't believe many religious people in Ranaana are starving because they can't find work because they won't work on Shabbat.

Rabin made the right decision to allow Intel to work on Shabbat and bring jobs to a very depressed periphery town. I know more than a handful of religious Jews who were trained and employed by Intel in KG, so the "religious Jews getting rejected" logic is a red herring.

Jerusalem desperately needs jobs. These protests are horrible and they should all be arrested and put in jail for a while.

Anonymous said...

These protests are horrible and they should all be arrested and put in jail for a while.

Including the peaceful protesters. They're a danger to democracy and capitalism.

Intel Outside said...

Jerusalem desperately needs jobs.

So creating jobs that the weakest sector can't partake in (but would be very good at) makes a lot of sense.

Job discrimination against someone who is religious (because Intel would rather hire some who will work on Shabbat) is still illegal in the State of Israel.

And the pressure it would create for someone who needs the job but would otherwise not work on Shabbos (such as what happened in Kiryat Gat) is a Chillul Hashem.

tafka pp said...

Jerusalem has plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes open over Shabbat... it isn't Tel Aviv, but anyone who believes that the city somehow is a paradigm of Sabbath Sanctification lives in a dream world.

The tragedy to my mind is that the Charedi community don't seem to want to come out of their dream world.

Elaz said...

9:28 has the right idea. Protest by taking your business elsewhere and letting Intel know why. This is how adults act. Kicking and screaming like unruly children is a) not as effective b) disgraceful behavior for g-d fearing people.

I'm very intrigued by those angered by all things religious in Israel. Why else would you go/stay there if not for its Jewish identity? There are so many easier, more peaceful places to live. Please enlighten me.

JoeSettler said...

Shelly Yechemovitch (Labor Party) is upset that Chilonim are not protesting side by side with the Chareidim against Intel.

Shelly wonders if this is the state of hi-tech, how long before it trickles down to the rest of Israeli society?

Shelly believes that if the Shabbat laws are not upheld, the weakest sector will be suffer as they will be forced to work in the stores and malls on Shabbat, while the owners go off to play sports.

(hattip: Jameel)

HAGTBG said...

You wrote: "Israel managed to work out a solution with the Chareidi population over the Jerusalem parking lot riots a few weeks ago ..."

What was this solution?

Incidentally to those saying they will boycott Intel, did you consider that your boycott, which is not halachiaclly required, could drive the company out of Israel.

josh said...

I understand that the main demonstration was in the morning after davening. Thousands came to read tehillim and other peaceful acts and then went home to eat shabbat lunch.
That a few hundred stayed and made trouble is a sign that you are believing the media account of the day.

The back of the hill said...

So may I assume that the rioters are ab initio actually employable by Intel? That, more than anything else, would contribute to their outrage. Because after all, do they really care if heathens (ie, non-observant Jews, labor voters, members of Reform congregations, Christians, Druze, and Muslims) were to work on shabbes?

I've been happier over the years with my AMD units anyway and now I know not to buy another Intel as I do not want to contribute to chilul Shabbos in Y-m.

Sounds surprisingly similar to the boycott movement statements about not buying Israeli.

I understand that the main demonstration was in the morning after davening.

How VERY Muslim. First go to masjid and listen to the imam preaching hate. Then spend the rest of the day rioting through the Hindu and Animist portions of the settlement, burning stores and attacking the police.... oh wait, that's a different time and a different place. Sorry. My bad.

Look, Shabbes is what YOU make of it. What other people do is strictly their own lookout.

The Sfas Emes, citing his heilige grandfather the Chiddushei HaRim, interprets psook 16:18 in Dvarim (parshas Shoftim) – "Shoftim ve shotrim titeinu-lecha, be chol sheariteicha, asher HaShem notein lach" ('Judges and officers shall you appoint, in all the gateways (cities') which Hashem has given you), as a command to guard the gates to our awareness and monitor our senses, so that we do not see what we should not see, nor hear what we should not hear.

We have the ability and the intelligence to look the other way, as we standardly do when confronted with immodesty or something embarrassing.

By the same token people should mind their own business - so as not to engage in lashon hara, nor be led astray by the example of others.

Anonymous said...

" Yup, asked a rabbi a hypothetical using the scenario from the protests and he didn't even hesitate before he said "Ossur." "

Ummmmm They dont care what YOUR Rabbi Paskins. They have THEIR Rabbi who says its Mutar. Now I would bet their Rabbi is a bit more of a talmid chacham than your Rabbi. And, even if he is not, does it matter? Why are they forced to listen to YOUR rabbi?

Anonymous said...

Rioting isn't always reserved for terrorists.

Religious nuts do it too.

Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or some other belief, you can have a dialog WITHOUT rioting or inciting violence.

Anonymous said...

Just look at the Peace Fanatics violently rioting every Friday near Modiin.

Should we classify them as terrorists or religious nuts?

yoni r. said...

Abe Frohman was also the name of the "Sausage King of Chicago", according to the fine documentary "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (Wikipedia has a different spelling of Frohman).

Anonymous said...

Well I for one am appalled at the cynicism on this blog. How anyone could fail to be mitchazek in their Yahadus after seeing people dressed in their Polish finery shouting shabbesshabbes, pushing photographers and tipping over plant pots is beyond me! How can you just refuse to see the kiddush Hashem or appreciate the beauty of TorahTrue living here?

Probably you're all a bunch of koifrim, or worse! Modernists (chas v'shalom)!
I'd bet some of you probably even work in place of using the Torah as a spade to live with (Hashem yirachem)!

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