Intel places barbed wire fence ahead of haredi protest
Electronic chip manufacturer prepares for Shabbat battle, puts up barbed wire fence around Har Hotzvim complex. Jerusalem councilman: 'We are obliged to protest'
Ronen Medzini • Ynet
The Shabbat wars continue in Jerusalem- Following Intel's announcement it will begin activity at the Har Hotzvim plant on weekends, and the ultra Orthodox rabbis' call to protest the move in a mass rally on Saturday, the electronic chip manufacturer played it safe, erecting Thursday a barbed wire fence on top of the existing iron fence surrounding its complex.
A source at Intel Israel confirmed the company will be placing the barbed wire fence, saying "we work in Intel Jerusalem for the past 24 years, following the company's needs and in accordance with the law. The status-quo did not change during all these years."
However, outrage is at its peak among the haredim. A source close to MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), who initiated the protests, told Ynet: "today it's Intel, and tomorrow it will be the Malha mall. It has to stop here; it can't go on another step.
"After what happened in Jerusalem, can't Intel see the responsibility lies on their shoulders? If Intel is first, other factories will come and do the same. This cannot come at the expense of the Shabbat. Shabbat is above all," said the source.
Earlier on Thursday, MK Maklev met with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Intel's CEO in an attempt to reach an agreement, but to no avail. Maklev's aides claim that Intel's CEO suggested reducing the number of employees working on Shabbat and hire non-Jews, but they told her this solution was not acceptable.
Following ultra-Orthodox calls to hold a mass rally on Saturday in the Har Hotzvim industrial area in Jerusalem, municipality representatives are taking conflicting stands.
"I think if they have the nerve to ask people not to work, it is no wonder the city will be set on fire," said Lora Varton (Meretz).
"It's a big enough shame that they themselves do not work, so they shouldn't have the right to tell others not to. It's scandalous, I hope they realize that they should stay out of it and that the mayor will enforce order and protect the residents' right to run their own lives," said Varton.
Private sector must be allowed to work
Jerusalem city councilman Ofer Berkovitch (Awakening in Jerusalem) claims that in order to develop business in Jerusalem, the factory must be allowed to open on the weekends.
"If the private sector wants to work on Shabbat, they must be allowed to do so. Jerusalem, as a city that has proclaimed the advancement of economy and employment, has to fulfill these needs in order to allow flourishing and encourage the establishment of more companies in the city," said Berkovitch.
"Awakening (in Jerusalem) movement believes that the needs of the large religious public in Jerusalem must be respected, however in this case, the location of the factory allows out-of- town commute, and is not near a haredi neighborhood.
"We must continue to adhere to the notion that each person should live according to their own wishes," he added.
In contrast, Jerusalem councilman attorney Shlomo Melik (United Torah Judaism) said that "Intel is the one who started the conflict, following a secular attitude of 'there's an opportunity' after the parking lot battle.
"According to the Jewish religious laws we are obliged to protest, otherwise we will lose track of our purpose. The haredim do not interfere with what each person does in his own home, all we want is a public display of Judaism, because there is no other Judaism.
"Just like one must observe (the Shabbat) on public transport and in malls, the same goes for parking lots. I hope the protest helps, and the Intel international realized it has gained nothing," said Melik.
Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this article.
[Hat Tip: harold.]