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Ultra-Orthodox Jews Protest Intel Sabbath Operations in Jerusalem


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Alleged violations of the Jewish Sabbath by a top international company prompted religious protests in Jerusalem on Saturday-the biblical day of rest.

About 1,500 angry ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated at the Jerusalem factory of computer giant Intel, to protest the electronic chip maker's operations on the Sabbath.

Chanting the Yiddish word for Sabbath, they charged that work is forbidden on the holy day of rest according to the Bible and called on the company to stay closed on Saturdays.

Intel has operated on the Sabbath in Jerusalem for years, so it is not clear why the protests broke out now. But there has been a wave of religious demonstrations since a parking lot opened on the Sabbath near an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood several months ago.

The unrest points to the deep divisions between the secular majority in Israel and the ultra-Orthodox minority.

Jerusalem Post correspondent Haviv Rettig Gur says the religious protesters do not recognize the State of Israel.

"They're a small group and their purpose is to show their own strength against the general society which they feel is a mockery of Jewish identity or a mockery of what a Jewish society should be. That's their view of Zionism," he said.

Gur says there is a culture war between ultra-Orthodox and secular Israelis, and a fringe group has taken it to the extreme.

"They don't quite trust the Israeli political system or the police or all the structures of authority and so a very tiny group has declared a war on the entire Israeli mainstream," he said.

The Intel protests pit holy tradition against high-technology and point to the dilemma of trying to apply ancient Jewish law in a modern Jewish state.

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