In five weeks from now Israel will go over to standard time, or “winter time,” and an entire country will be forced to get used to the darkness that will fall shortly after 5 P.M. The Israeli public is used to this phenomenon, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
The idea of observing daylight saving time all year long, without changing to standard time at all, was recently discussed in the European Union, following a survey of millions of people, most of whom supported this option. To date Turkey, Russia and Iceland have cancelled the time changeover.
However, in the EU there has to be one decision that is binding on everyone. Jean Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said that the direction is to observe DST all year long, but for that they need the approval of the European Parliament, something that is likely to take time.
Israel is hotter than Europe, and has more light. Therefore such a change is even more logical and necessary. The reasons for the transition to a long period of DST are clear: It contributes to the saving of energy, increases work productivity, reduces the number of road accidents and improves the quality of life of working people, who can spend more time with their families during another hour of daylight.
And in fact, in 2010 there was a public protest against the reduced DST, a result of the coercion by then-Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) and the ultra-Orthodox parties. A committee appointed by Yishai – the Dov Kehat Committee – found an even more absurd reason than the usual one (“to make it easier to fast on Yom Kippur”): It asserted that there’s a problem with early morning prayers. In other words, if DST was observed in October, religious people wouldn’t have time to pray in the morning, eat a decent breakfast and get to work on time.
Three years later Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar introduced a long DST, as is customary in Europe. That was an important breakthrough.
Now the time has come to take another step in that direction: to decide to observe DST all year long. Even if we ignore energy savings and road safety, there is no argument over the fact that another hour of light toward evening would contribute a great deal to the quality of life of Israel’s citizens. That’s why Interior Minister Arye Dery should promote the initiative. Even before the EU does.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.
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