Daily Israel Report

Return to Standard Time Causes Uproar

The plan to return to Standard Time next week has created a public outcry and spurred challenges to the existing time change system.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/5/2010, 9:30 PM / Last Update: 9/5/2010, 9:34 PM

Albert Jankowski

Israel's planned return to Standard Time next week has spurred a public outcry and calls for change. Suggestions have ranged from switching to Standard Time and then back again, to postponing the switch this year, to postponing the switch every year. More than 100,000 Israelis say they plan to ignore the switch to Standard Time and simply keep acting as if the clocks did not change.

While Israel switches to Daylight Savings Time at the same time as much of the Western world, the return to Standard Time in winter is timed to occur before the holiday of Yom Kippur, no matter when the holiday falls on the secular calendar. This year, the holidays are earlier than usual, meaning Israelis are planning to “fall back” to Standard Time in early September – several weeks before most of the world.

Opponents of the early switch back say that it will hurt the economy, due to the need to spend extra on electrical lighting during waking hours, and will give people less time after work or school to enjoy the daylight.

The switch back before Yom Kippur was instituted at the request of religious lawmakers, and is seen by some as an attempt to make the Yom Kippur fast less difficult. However, religious lawmakers and others said Sunday that there is no connection between the time change and the fast.

“I don't see any Jewish aspect to this struggle [over Daylight Savings Time,” said Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz of the Jewish Home – National Religious Party. “The overwhelming majority of the public that thinks fasting on Yom Kippur is important will fast either way, and the length of the fast won't change.”

By Sunday evening, nearly 115,000 people had signed an online petition created by high-tech professional Shimon Eckhaus calling to simply ignore the switch back to Standard Time. “Schools, businesses, public institutions, families, everyone – please just keep acting as if the clock didn't move,” the petition read.

Eckhaus criticized the switch back to Standard Time as increasing the risk of traffic accidents, since more people are driving home from work after dark, changing Israel's clocks in relation to those in other countries, and costing the economy “hundreds of millions of shekels.” The Yom Kippur fast “lasts 25 hours either way,” he argued.

Knesset head Reuven Rivlin of Likud and MK Zev Bielsky of Kadima have proposed postponing the switch back to Standard Time this year, while MK Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz proposed a permanent decision to move the switch to Standard Time to late October. Interior Minister Eli Yishai was reported to have said he would consider switching back to Daylight Savings Time after Yom Kippur, but his spokespeople later clarified that the minister does not plan to move the clock twice.