By J. Levitt
Yishai Fraenkel, General Manager of Intel’s Jerusalem R&D Center and a veteran figure in Israeli high tech, said he has been on an unofficial leave of absence from Intel Corporation since learning of his nephew Naftali Frankel’s kidnapping, along with yeshiva classmates Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar, last Friday morning.
In an interview in Israeli business daily Globes, Fraenkel said the news has been very hard on his family, which was together to celebrate Naftali’s grandfather’s 85th birthday 10 days ago. He also said that he’s heard from many Palestinian colleagues from the software industry in Ramallah who have been in touch to say they were “repulsed” by the abductions of the three boys.
Fraenkel and his brother Avi, Naftali’s father, both live with their families in Nof Ayalon, near Modiin.
Fraenkel said that “for the time being I’m with the family all the time. We’re supporting each other and getting updates from the security forces. I suppose that if this situation carries on for long, I’ll need slowly to return to some kind of routine.”
Fraenkel has five children, ages 9 to 21, who he said are very upset: “They are coping with a painful reality and each different age takes it in their own way. It is important to remember that Naftali is their cousin, friend and neighbor. It is not easy for any of them.”
From the software world, he said many have been in touch to offer their support: “I have received many calls and messages of support and solidarity from Intel people in Israel and around the world. ”
In Israel, Fraenkel is known for his work to integrate the religious communities and Palestinians into jobs in the software industry, where Intel employs 8,500 workers.
He said that “for years I’ve pushed with all my strength for these two very important initiatives. We have succeeded in integrating over 100 Ultra-Orthodox men and women in various jobs at Intel. We also work with Palestinian software houses in the Ramallah region. This is a very important activity for Intel and it is close to my heart.”
Last year, Fraenkel’s integration work was featured in a feature by Forbes by reporter Richard Behar, the winner of the 2014 Story of the Year Award from the publishers of The Algemeiner.
On Wednesday, Behar told The Algemeiner: “Yishai is an extraordinarily wonderful man and my heart breaks for him and his family and nephew.”
In the Globes interview, Fraenkel said he has been receiving messages of support and encouragement from friends and hi-tech colleagues around the world, as well as from those in Ramallah.
He said Palestinian contacts have sent emails and phoned. “They told me that they are repulsed by the kidnapping of young boys, ‘You don’t kidnap children,’ they tell me. They say they are praying for the boys’ welfare. The truth is it has warmed my heart to get these messages.”
Asked what he would tell Naftali today, if he could, Fraenkel responded: “I’d hug him ‘and ask him’ to be strong. That he should know that the entire people of Israel stand all the time with him and Gilad and Eyal. I would tell him that all the security forces are turning everything upside down to find them. We haven’t forgotten them for a second and there is no way we will forget them.”