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1 Kislev 5760 - November 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Intel Refuses to Employ Shomrei Shabbos Workers

by Eliezer Rauchberger

Minister of Labor and Welfare Eli Yishai (Shas) has formed a task force to examine complaints against the Intel company concerning its refusal to employ Shabbos observers in its Israeli plants. Intel is a major American corporation that has large manufacturing plants in Yerushalayim and Kiryat Gat. It is the largest producer of the CPU chips that are the heart and brains of modern computers, and it recently announced that its Kiryat Gat plant will use the most advanced production technology. Intel received an Israeli government subsidy of $380 million towards the construction of its Kiryat Gat plant, representing almost 40% of the total cost.

Minister Yishai announced his plans last week in the Knesset plenum in response to a parliamentary question posed by MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni. In his question Rabbi Gafni reported that Intel refused to accept an applicant for employment because he is religious.

Minister Yishai said that the problem raised by Rabbi Gafni is complex as well as painful. He related that his office often encounters employers who refuse to hire Shabbos- observers, while claiming that the applicant was rejected for other reasons. Minister Yishai stressed that it is difficult to take action against such employers, because they always pin their refusal to accept religious workers on their lack of qualifications. He then added: "Go prove that the decisive factor in the refusal wasn't the kippa on the applicant's head."

Minister Yishai added that he has been examining the number of applicants applying for employment by Intel, and that last week he sent the company a stern letter about the many complaints he has received about prospective religious employees who were rejected. "On the telephone they tell them that their qualifications are fine and that they can come for an interview. People send in their school records, and if their grades are high there is no reason why they shouldn't be accepted. The moment they see the applicants in person, Intel finds all sorts all of excuses for rejecting them," Yishai said.

He then stressed that it is inconceivable to discriminate against a worker because he is religious and added that his office has become stricter on the issue. "We have met with the director, and I have personally written to him," Yishai said. He also said that he is checking Intel's list of employees to ascertain how many of them are religious.

Rabbi Gafni said that this issue is part of the overall argument over the image of the State as a Jewish one. "It has become clear that a person who observes Shabbos, even if he doesn't wear a yarmulke, cannot be accepted to work because malls and companies are open on Shabbos and buses run on Shabbos. We are transforming this State into an inegalitarian one which discriminates against a sector of its citizenry."

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