Ending daylight saving time: Surrender or compromise?
As clocks moved back one hour Saturday night, bringing in standard time a full month before Europe and the US, question raised whether the early move is a capitulation to ultra-Orthodox. Others believe switch made consensually because of Yom Kippur fast, and that all parties are satisfied
Every year, the question is raised as to why Israel moves the clocks back earlier than the Western states. The debate: religious people prefer to end the Yom Kippur fast at an earlier hour in the day, while secular people prefer to have an extra hour of sunlight, and perhaps even save on electricity.
Former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz said to Ynet that moving the clocks back early is a capitulation to the religious and the haredim, who ask that standard time be brought in before the Yom Kippur fast.
"It is an unnecessary and unjustifiable capitulation. It is abuse of the public. Their claim is that it is difficult to fast during daylight savings time. If they would set the start of prayers for one hour later, it would have precisely the same result," said Poraz. He said that he tried to change the law during his term as interior minister, but failed.
Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) is also outraged that daylight savings time is ended as temperatures outside are hover around 30 C degrees (86 F degrees). "Daylight savings during most days of the year is the proper thing," he said. "It is proper for the environment, for the Israeli economy, for the battle against road accidents, and for our healthy lifestyles. There is no logic in starting standard time in September – many long weeks before standard time is started in the rest of the countries."
MK Horowitz said that the opposition of ultra-Orthodox officials to daylight savings is unfounded and entirely arbitrary, and harms the public, including the haredim themselves. He added that he believes daylight savings should be in place in Israel throughout the year and that clocks must be moved forward an additional hour in the summer months.
"As the entire world takes maximum advantage of the sunlight, here, in our sun-filled country, the free majority capitulates to an extremist minority. As such, tomorrow at 6:00 pm, darkness will fall on all of us," claimed Horowitz.
'We reached a consensus'
On the other hand, religious and haredi figures claim that they must be taken into consideration. MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) said, "For many long years there have been wars and arm-bending between the religious and secular.
"A few years ago, the religious and the seculars reached a consensus in the Knesset regarding the set dates of standard time and daylight savings time. We thought it reasonable that the Hebrew calendar be taken into account in Israel, including on Passover and Yom Kippur. This is because there is a fast, and there is Seder night. As you know, the Jewish day does not start at midnight as it does in the Christian world, but on the evening prior," explained Orlev.
MK Orlev attacked his colleague from Meretz. "Nitzan Horowitz is apparently completely disconnected from anything Jewish. He apparently is unprepared to take into consideration any Jewish element. True that the State of Israel is different in the sense that it took into consideration the Jewish holidays in deciding when to enter standard time. I am fine with the fact that we go to standard time Saturday because it reflects the very broad consensus in the Knesset."
MK David Azoulay (Shas) initiated the said law and passed it in the Knesset in 2005. According to the law, daylight savings time will start on the last Friday of March at 2:00 am and will end at midnight on the first Saturday of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
"The law works well to the benefit of everyone. I didn't here about anyone who wasn't satisfied," said Azoulay to Ynet. "The trend is to make it easier for those who fast on Yom Kippur. The people of Israel is rewarded and there are no arguments.
"The law is essentially the result of a compromise between the religious and the non-religious public. Daylight savings starts on the first of April when it is still Spring, and ends on the Saturday night between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, such that it ends on a Hebrew month and starts on a Gregorian month. It's a compromise."
According to MK Azoulay, there is no proof that the said method has resulted in economic damages. "I haven't seen any scientific study on the issue. Sums are thrown about in the air, but, with all due respect, no one has proved (them). Perhaps (the current method) even creates big savings."
In response to the claim that standard time increases road accidents, Azoulay responded: "Here, too, nothing has been researched. These statements should not be relied upon."
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report