Israelis revolt against early winter time

By Simon Griver, September 7, 2010
Playtime at dusk: Tel Aviv beach

Playtime at dusk: Tel Aviv beach

Tens of thousands of Israelis have signed a petition protesting against the early end of summertime.

For many years, Israelis have moved their clocks back one hour in the run-up to Yom Kippur in order to make the fast easier by enabling it to be broken an hour earlier.

But this year, because the High Holy Days fall so early, many Israelis are upset by the loss of an hour's daylight in the evenings. Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz is proposing a Knesset bill that would make Israel fall in line with the EU, which ends summertime on the last Sunday in October.

A campaign against the early end to summertime is being spearheaded by Dr Shimon Eckhouse, chairman of Nasdaq-traded medical device company Syneron. He also wants to adopt the EU norm and has collected over 90,000 signatories on a petition.

Starting winter time before the end of October "will shorten quality time that parents have with their children, increase the chance of road accidents and cost the Israeli economy millions of shekels", he said.

There are estimates that the 48 days between September 12, when Israel changes its clocks, and October 31, when the UK and the rest of Europe change their clocks, will cost Israel £4.6 million in higher electricity consumption.

"The only reason to end summertime early is because it supposedly shortens the fast on Yom Kippur," Dr Eckhouse added. "This is warped because either way the fast continues for 25 hours. I am a Jew who observes tradition and fasts on Yom Kippur."

Both the Knesset bill and Dr Eckhouse's campaign have little chance of succeeding due to the staunch opposition of religious MKs. A compromise proposal by Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh to temporarily end summertime as planned and then reinstate it until the end of October has been dismissed as confusing. Orthodox MKs like Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism are also dismissive of alternative plans. He said: "This is the status-quo that has been agreed."

During the Mandate, the British imposed double summertime in the region. Israel did not introduce the changing of the clocks until 1980, when the current compromise arrangement was reached between religious and secular Israelis.

Last updated: 10:23am, September 8 2010