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.
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.
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)
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.
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.