Shas leader and Interior Minister Eli Yishai looks around and bursts out laughing. He and his crowd of supporters raise a glass and toast "lehaim" as they watch the secular public writhing around in anger and screaming that once again the summer has been stolen from them.
Yishai so enjoys teaching them a lesson; let everyone understand that the ultra-Orthodox are in control here and all the shouting by the secular population will be to no avail. They have to understand that it is he who decides when the winter begins, and the winter begins in another two days because that is what King Yishai ordered.
The secular population tried for years to turn Israel into a normal country, even if only from one tiny point of view, that of summer time. They want summer time to be the same as in Europe, from the end of March until the end of October. Not an exaggerated request. But Yishai laughs in their faces and says that "Yom Kippur is more important and I want to make things easier for those who fast. Therefore I'll put an end to daylight saving time already in two days."
But that was when a problem arose. No one could understand why changing the clock makes it easier for people who are fasting. After all, the fast anyway lasts for 25 hours. And who gave Yishai permission to "make things easier?" After all, in Leviticus Chapter 23, it is written: "And you shall afflict your souls" during the fast on the Day of Atonement.
Two years ago, the pleas of the secular population reached the heavens and were heard by King Yishai. Then he understood that it was necessary to invent a new ruse that would make it possible to continue to abuse the secular population. So Yishai set up the Kehat committee which consisted, of course, of people who understood very well what the king wanted. The committee convened and found an even more absurd excuse: If the clock is changed at the end of October, like in Europe, religious and ultra-Orthodox people will not be able to pray the "Shaharit" early morning prayer in time and then eat a proper breakfast and also get to work in time. And we all know that the most important thing for the ultra-Orthodox is to go to work.
The committee did not go into the question of what is done by observant Jews in Rome, Paris, Antwerp and New York when daylight saving time is in effect. Perhaps the Jews of the Diaspora are not sufficiently kosher.
At all events, the Kehat committee was not impressed by any rational argument. I too appeared before it, even though I knew I was merely being used as a fig leaf. The committee decided that summer time would end at the beginning of October, a month before what is accepted practice in Europe. Had the recommendations of the committee turned into law, we would have won one week and lost the entire campaign. The public would have thought, mistakenly, that the committee had done something positive while what was actually done was one big deceit that was aimed at only one thing - continuing to abuse the secular majority.
A huge majority of people in Israel - the secular sector, almost all the religious sector and a considerable part of the ultra-orthodox sector too - want a normal daylight saving time of the kind that functions in Europe; that is to say, until the end of October. This large majority is opposed to the Kehat committee's recommendations. Therefore, it is a good thing that Yishai's bill that was submitted to the Knesset on July 4, 2011 has not yet been turned into a law.
We have written here so many times just how much daylight saving time improves quality of life. From the economic viewpoint, it saves gasoline and electricity in work places and at home. It contributes to raising productivity and output. It reduces the number of road accidents. It makes it possible for working parents (who are the last people that interest Yishai ) to see their little children before they go to sleep, to play with them, to take them outdoors and even go to the beach with them.
But down-to-earth trifles like these do not interest King Yishai. He simply wants to build up the special form of regime to be found in Israel - a religious "minocracy." Not a democracy that represents the majority and takes the minority into account, but rather a minority that controls the majority and does not care a damn about it.
On Sunday evening, when the sun sets already at 5.30 P.M. and darkness covers the face of the earth, we shall all remember that there is only one other country in the world where the ayatollahs set the way the clock works. That country is Iran. There it is the fast of Ramadan that decides matters. Us and Iran.
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