Apple now has two offices in Israel; one in Haifa and a newly opened office in Herzeliya, housing 800 employees making it the largest R&D center Apple has outside of the USA. There were rumors that Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, would make an appearance for the opening. Many were disappointed when he didn’t show.

In a more than pleasant surprise, he has suddenly appeared in the Holy Land.

Cook’s surprise visit brought him to meet with Israel President Reuven Rivlin, at the President’ official residence in Jerusalem. Rivlin praised Cook’s “unprecedented contribution to humanity”.

“It is a great privilege to host you and your team here in Israel,” Rivlin told Cook. “Even for me, as one who prefers to write with a pen and paper, it is clear what a great miracle you have created when I look at my staff, and my grandchildren. We must learn from you how to help our students also in difficult places, as you have done in many schools in the US.”

Cook thanked Rivlin for his kind words, saying that he and his staff “have an enormous admiration for Israel, not just as an important ally for the US, but as a place to do business.” Cook said Apple had a great deal of experience in helping disadvantaged communities increase their tech skills.

“We are huge believers in education, and always felt that education is the great equalizer,” said Cook. “We are working hard to bring schools that have under-served children, to a much higher level.  We chose 120 schools from across the US, and we are working hard in the classroom, to help the children and their access to education.”

Rivlin went on to describe the many things he felt Apple will bring to Israel. “True innovation can only result from full access to education for all, regardless of race, religion, or sex.  We would like to learn from your experience in the US, in bringing education and technology to periphery groups and communities. I personally admire your work in human rights. You are an inspiration for us to do even more.”” Rivlin told Cook.

The President also noted his pride at the inclusion in the delegation of Johny Srouji, Vice President for Hardware Technology at Apple, a member of the Israeli Arab community, born in Haifa.  The President said, “Imagine what the world would be like with another five ‘Johny Srouji’s, we are proud of him, and all he has achieved.”

Apple’s relationship with Israel began in 2012 when they bought Anobit based in Haifa. This move came about as the result of an Apple initiative to develop the technology it needs in-house, instead of relying on outside companies and contractors. That acquisition was followed by another Israel company, PrimeSense Ltd.

Anobit was acquired in 2012 for $390 million. Its flash memory controllers are a key component of all Apple’s leading products (from iPads and iPhones to MacBook AirsPrevious to the acquisition, Apple had at least 1,000 chip engineers. Roughly 160 of Anobit’s 200 employees are also engineers, so they represent more than 10 percent of the total number of chip engineers at Apple.

PrimeSense Ltd. is a developer of chips that enable three-dimensional machine vision, for gesture-controlled technologies in new devices from the maker of iPhones and iPads. Apple paid about $350 million for PrimeSense, whose technology powers the gesture control in Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Kinect gaming system.

Apple has over 700 direct employees working for them in Israel and another 6,000 developing applications for their iOS platform. Apple is planning to expand its operations in Israel even more by opening yet another R&D center in Ranana. Between 100 and 150 former employees of Texas Instruments will staff the development center. Apple absorbed those employees late in 2012, according to the report, after Texas Instruments dismissed them as part of a wider culling of 1,700 workers worldwide. While the former TI employees are said to have worked largely on short-range communication technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC, the report suggests that Apple will take the new development center in a different stategic direction.