Unless a solution is found, a massive haredi demonstration will take place on Saturday morning in Jerusalem against the Intel Corporation's desecration of the Shabbat.
Leading rabbinic authorities from the major haredi groups were gearing up to call on their faithful to converge on Intel's International Die Press (IDPj) facility, in the capital's Har Hotzvim industrial park, to protest the computer chip producer's intention to operate its factory there on Shabbat.
At the same time, last-minute attempts were being made to prevent the demonstrations. MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) 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 expected to meet with leading rabbinical authorities to discuss how best to respond to Fassberg's suggestions.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to prevent the demonstrators from breaking into the factory in the event of a protest, Intel installed barbed wire around its perimeter.
As of press time, it was still unclear whether the protest would take place, as some solution might yet be agreed upon, according to Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, secretary of the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat.
Intel Israel spokesman Koby Behar, who declined to comment on the Knesset meeting, said, "We at Intel Israel are operating in accordance with our business needs and in accordance with the law."
But Maklev's spokesman said in response that Intel was breaking the Shabbat Day of Rest Law by employing Jews on Shabbat.
"Intel has not received a permit to work on Shabbat," said the spokesman, adding that the planned demonstrations were aimed at pressing the government to enforce the law against Intel.
The law prohibits the employment of Jewish Israelis on Shabbat, which is legally declared a day of rest. Certain exceptions are made for industries that deal with national security, public health or other sensitive fields.
Although a unified coalition of haredi organizations has banded together to fight Intel's Shabbat operations, there are differences of approach regarding the best tactic to adopt.
The traditionalist Eda Haredit has already called in its mouthpiece, Ha'edah, for mass demonstrations this Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m., after most morning prayers are finished.
"Money-hungry men have gathered to demolish the holy walls of the Shabbat," reads the headline of Ha'edah, which will be distributed on Friday. The headline is patterned after the well-known Hanukka song "Ma'oz Tzur," which describes the Jewish people's heroic opposition to Ancient Greece's attempts to contaminate Jewish culture during the Second Temple era.
A veteran haredi PR man pointed out that unlike mainstream haredi groups, who send political representatives to the Knesset and participate in national and local elections, members of the Eda Haredit are ideologically opposed to any cooperation with the Zionist establishment. Therefore, they cannot avail themselves of the more accepted political channels to put pressure on Intel.
Instead, they are more likely to adopt public demonstrations as a means of forcing Intel to stay closed on Shabbat.
In contrast, an editor at the mainstream haredi daily Hamodia, which targets the hassidic public, said it was still unclear whether there would be a mass demonstration.
"Dialogue is always a better solution," said the source. "We do not necessarily agree with the Eda Haredit's tactic of aggression. In fact, we have never launched a violent fight to protect the holiness of Shabbat. We are concerned about the negative ramifications this could have for our youths."
Intel has had a factory in Jerusalem since 1985. About a year and a half ago, the existing factory was dismantled and revamped. This Sunday, there will be an official launching ceremony, to be attended by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Fassberg.
Computer chips produced in Intel's Kiryat Gat factory are brought to the capital for the last stage of production, including cutting and packaging. Sources in Intel told The Jerusalem Post that stopping the production process could cause severe damage to productivity and endanger the business feasibility of Intel's operations in both Jerusalem and Kiryat Gat.
Intel Israel employs approximately 6,500 people, in addition to thousands of contractors and service-providers indirectly employed by the hi-tech mammoth.
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