Israel Daylight Savings Time (DST) has long been a bone of contention between the religious and the secular communities. The extended summer clock is a major problem for religious Jews. I recall, back in New York, heading to the early minyan in pitch darkness in mid October, which was never enjoyable and also presented a problem in terms of when it was halachically appropriate to put on a tallit. Needless to say, I gravitated to the later minyanim, but that’s a luxury religious Jews in Israel cannot afford, as the work day here begins at 8 AM, and so they need to be done and in the car going to work by 7.
Traditionally, the Interior Ministry, which decides these things, has been held, more often than not, by a religious minister, and so, despite vociferous objections from secular Israelis who wanted their autumn days longer, DST usually ended here right before or right after the high holidays (nothing sweeter than a Yom Kippur fast that ends at 6 PM).
But now, following the great Lapid-Bennett victory, the new Interior Minister is Gideon Sa’ar, a secular Likudnik, who is bent on flexing some secular muscle on DST.
A committee that had been appointed by the outgoing Shas Interior Minister Eli Yishai—because the secular folks were pushing him relentlessly—extended the maximum DST period from 190 to 198 days, which the religious promptly protested but eventually accepted.
Now Minister Saar has appointed yet another committee to examine the issue, which should submit its report within a month, according to Yedioth Aharonoth, and if you don’t think it will recommend extending the daylight savings period then you haven’t listened to a word I’ve been telling you about Israeli coalition politics..
Haredi politicians from both black hat parties were smart enough to refuse to comment on the prospects of a longer DST, preferring not to ignite a new firestorm over this issue—which they couldn’t possibly put out. The votes are stacked against them.
For comparison, in Europe the summer clock is stretched over 218 days, and in the U.S. a whopping 239 days, which makes you wonder if the measly 126 winter clock period deserves to be named “Standard.”
Minister Saar wrote on his Facebook page yesterday: “The purpose of the committee is simple, to determine the best arrangement for the citizens of Israel, having examined all relevant aspects. I instructed the committee to hold hearings quickly and efficiently, in an effort to complete them within a month.”
And vote in favor of the secular.
This is one more area where the Israeli—and European—notion of democracy differs from the Anglo-Saxon. Over here, democracy means making sure the will of the majority is expressed in government decisions. In British-influenced civilized democracies, the purpose of legislation is to protect the interests of the minority.