Israelis Protest Early End of Daylight Saving Time in Tel Aviv

Demonstrators accuse Interior Minister Eli Yishai and his political party, Shas, of favoring Israel's ultra-Orthodox over the greater good of the country's citizens, by changing clocks before Yom Kippur rather than waiting until the rest of the world returns to standard time.

Dozens of protesters demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Saturday night against Israel's policy of ending daylight saving time prior to Yom Kippur, accusing Interior Minister Eli Yishai and his political party, Shas, of favoring one sector of the population, namely the ultra-Orthodox, over the greater good of the country's citizens.

Activists from Israel Hofshit (Be Free Israel), an organization that promotes pluralism and religious freedom, joined members of Meretz in a demonstration at Rabin Square. At the center of the demonstration stood an installation of a clock made of candles. A few protesters wore bathing suits, carried parasols and played beach games to represent their claim that turning the clocks back an hour in the middle of September hurts their quality of life due to the loss of sunlight. Some even vowed to continue acting as though daylight saving time, known in Israel as "summer time," was not over.

Israel switches back to standard time each year before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a move favored by some religious Jews who say it makes the annual 25-hour fast easier to endure.

This year, at 2 o'clock in the morning on Sunday September 23, the time will change to 1 o'clock. Europe will make the change on October 28 and the United States will do so on November 4.

Some 390,489 people have signed a petition calling for an extension of daylight saving beyond October 1. "The decision [to change the clocks back before Yom Kippur] means millions of working citizens in Israel will return home from work in the dark, and will rise in the morning after the sun has warmed up our already-hot country," says the petition.

"Standard time cuts short the quality time that parents have with their children, adds to the risk of traffic accidents because of the additional travel in the dark, puts the local time at variance with the time in Europe and the rest of the world, and costs the Israeli economy hundreds of millions of shekels," it adds.

In 2010, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said "The bill to end daylight saving time before Yom Kippur was passed in 2005, while [Shas, the ultra-orthodox religious political party] was in the opposition. It was based on social and financial considerations and enjoyed a broad political consensus."

Alon Ron
Alon Ron