|First Published:||08:55 , 09.05.10|
|Latest Update:||13:42 , 09.05.10|
Yishai to consider return to daylight saving time
After 90,000 Israelis sign petition against moving clocks back, interior minister says, 'This isn't a religious or political matter; we can show understanding.' Senior Interior Ministry official: It's unfeasible and it just won't happen
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said Sunday morning that he would consider moving back to daylight saving time after the Yom Kippur fast, but a ministry official clarified that clocks would not be moved forward again.
Meanwhile, the movement against moving the clocks back to Standard Time is gaining momentum, with tens of thousands already signed on a petition against it. Within mere days, 90,000 secular Israelis put their signature on a petition against switching over to Standard Time.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Yishai said, "I love the summer time more than anyone else. We can show understanding and sensitivity. This isn't a religious or political matter, but something which is important to the entire population."
Yishai noted, however, that the decision to move to standard time was approved "by a wide majority by the entire coalition… Yom Kippur and the fast are important to the majority of the people of Israel, to pregnant women, children and elderly people who fast."
Approached by Ynet, a senior Interior Ministry official clarified, however, that "there will be no change in the Standard Time. It's simply unfeasible, so the clock will not be moved forward again after Yom Kippur. It's can't happen and it won't."
Despite claims that the daylight saving time could save the Israeli economy a lot of money, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said, "It doesn't seem fateful to me, but much ado about nothing."
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Liztman (United Torah Judaism) said that the public pressure on the summer time issue was "a provocation."
"You can write petitions, but this isn't how problems are solved," former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz (Shinui) told Ynet on Saturday.
Despite the impressive numbers, Poraz, himself opposed to winter time, is convinced the move won't yield results. "It is in the hands of the Knesset members. As long as the secular public doesn't have a political party representing it, it won't see any achievements."
The petition's authors claim that Standard Time, which will be instated this year earlier than usual in the year, shortens quality time parents spend with their children, increases the chances of traffic accidents, and costs the economy hundreds of millions of shekels.
'Yom Kippur used as fig leaf'
"The absurd thing is that it's possible to make the prayer on Yom Kippur an hour later," claimed Poraz. "The fast is the same fast. It doesn't matter. This is part of haredi abuse of the secular public. Only secular representation in the Knesset prepared to fight for this will result in achievements."
Attorney Yizhar Hess, executive director and CEO of the Masorti Movement in Israel, claimed, "It is hard to think of an issue that makes the haredi public in Israel seem more ridiculous than the issue of Daylight Saving Time. We will not end the summer by force even if we imprison the cuckoo in the clock and force it to cover its hair."
"Using Yom Kippur as an excuse is nothing more than a fig leaf," claimed Hess. "One of the reasons is fasters for the start of the fast and the end of the fast to be delayed by an hour. This is a mistake, perhaps even malice, on the part of the haredi leadership that is dragging the public it leads into a pointless struggle most of the haredi street would forego. They, too, would enjoy another hour of daylight that spares bloodshed."
MK Azoulay: Petition authors are ignorant
Nir, one of the petition's signatories, said, "As a person who fasts on Yom Kippur and keeps Jewish tradition, I am pained to see such hatred and disgust the haredi minority evokes towards Judaism."
According to him, the petition against moving the clocks back is a symbolic, not a practical act. However, if real action were taken to put it into action, he would join the boycott. "I would definitely be willing to arrive at work an hour late if it were a serious initiative," he said.
Knesset Member David Azoulay (Shas), who chairs the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee and who initiated the bill regarding winter time as it currently stands, harshly criticized the petition.
"The petition has its source in quarrelsome and fighting people who don't understand a thing. They are ignorant about the issue they are dealing with," he said.
"The law in its current state is the result of an understanding between all sections of the Knesset, from all parts of the political spectrum, including Knesset members from Meretz and Labor, from Likud and everyone, whose objective is to put an end to the ongoing argument surrounding Daylight Savings Time," asserted Azoulay.
"The current definition of Daylight Savings Time is from April 1 until the motzei Shabbat Tshuva (the end of the Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur). This is acceptable to everyone, including Chaim Oron from Meretz. True, this year it will be over in September, but next year it will be in October. Therefore, all the claims of those in opposition are nonsense. They are people with nothing else to do."
Special electricity rates?
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), despite any agreement from his fellow party member MK Oron, is opposed to moving to winter time.
"Moving to winter time in the midst of the warm days at the beginning of September is foolishness forced on the political establishment by haredi businessmen," Horwitz claimed. "Because of this, I am submitting a bill for Daylight Savings Time to continue until the end of October."
MK Horowitz that doing so holds a particular important place in the fight against traffic accidents. "The hour between 6 pm and 7 pm is a time when there is heavy traffic on the roads as people return from work. It is critically important whether this it is light out or dark out during this time. Because of the early switch to winter time, the sun will set at 5:49 pm and drivers will ride home in the dark."
MK Miri Regev (Likud) claimed that a dedicated rate should be set for electricity consumption during the transition months surrounding the switch to Standard Time. According to her, there is space for understanding and balance between the needs of the religious public and the needs of the economy.
Roni Sofer and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
Rabbi Menachem Creditor