Here we go again. Only we are special. Only we are different. Only we are smarter than the rest of the world. Only here Standard Time began this week and the day has gotten shorter, so that the sun begins to set at 5:30 in the afternoon. In this way, Israel has again become the country with the shortest summer in the world.
In Europe, including, for example, Turkey, Daylight Savings Time continues until the end of October. In the United States it goes on until November 6. Because there it is neither a religious nor a political issue. There, the contribution of DST to the quality of life is understood.
It is understood that keeping the sun out saves energy, reduces the number of road accidents, improves the quality of sleep, and most importantly, improves the home life of working people, because it is better to return from work while it's still light outside, when quality time with the family can still be enjoyed.
But when the Shas Party's ideal voter is living on the public's money, with no work whatsoever, why bother complaining about the quality of life of working people?
Just over a year ago, a widespread public protest flared up against the early demise of DST. Hundreds of thousands signed a petition against Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who imposes a particularly short DST period, based on the bizarre objective of easing the fast on Yom Kippur.
This argument is hard to fathom, since the fast is 25 hours long no matter what your clock says. Indeed, Shas MK Haim Amsalem has said that those who fast on Yom Kippur have nothing to gain by moving the clock to Standard Time, in fact they only stand to lose.
In any case, the massive public pressure had some effect, and Yishai decided to appoint a committee, headed by Dov Kehat, to examine the issue. But Yishai is no rookie politician. He made sure to load the committee with ideological brethren, some of them religious, some conservative, and some just professional yes-men whose job it is to agree with the minister's every whim.
The committee understood that the strange argument of easing the Yom Kippur fast no longer held, and so searched for a different theological argument. They said that it is impossible for summer time in Israel to be like it is in Europe, since such a change will cause great harm to the religious population. According to the committee, a religious Jew will not have enough time for morning prayers, breakfast, and arrival at work at 7:30 in the morning when summer time goes on throughout October. They contend that the time of morning prayers depends on the sunrise, and if daylight begins later, Jews will not have enough time to pray properly and reach work on time.
Therefore, summer time should end on the Sunday following October 1 - a month before much of the rest of the world.
Thereby the committee replaced the illogical argument of easing the Yom Kippur fast with an even stranger argument. As if the Jewish world has no solutions for such situations. As if all religious people begin work at 7:30 A.M. and cannot ask to come half an hour later for one month. And what do Jews in Paris, Rome, Brooklyn and Antwerp do? How do they manage to pray and reach work on time?
The answer is easy. There they don't have the political power to drive the public crazy. There they cannot force a minority opinion on the majority. In those places there is no minority theocracy. Only here they can, and therefore they do, abuse the majority, forced to live in a country in the style of Iran, where DST is set according to the Ramadan fast.
This year, the issue of shortening Daylight Savings Time passed quietly. It seems the social protest of the summer drained all the public's resources, leaving it unable to raise one more flag, the flag of normalcy. Still, we must not give in. The Kehat Committee's proposal has yet to pass the Knesset. It is to be debated during the winter session, set to begin in about a month. There is thus still time to organize, to protest, and to put pressure on Knesset members in order to prevent passage of the committee's proposal, which serves only to remove us further from Western standards and does unnecessary harm to the quality of life of the majority.
A bill should be advanced that does not imitate Iran, but rather adopts the European Union standard: summer time beginning on the last Sunday of March and ending on the last Sunday of October. So easy, so simple. In a normal country.
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