, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s an excerpt from my ebook on daylight saving time, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy. The excerpt shows how a potential terrorist incident was thwarted due to daylight saving time. It’s looking at DST in Israel, in the chapter on Asia. The book can be obtained from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes and Google.

“Daylight saving in Israel has been surrounded by controversy. The area known as the British Mandate for Palestine had continuous daylight saving from 1940 to 1942 and then each year from 1943 to 1946. Part of that region became Israel on 14 May 1948 and nine days later it put its clocks on two hours to conserve energy as it fought with Arab armies from the second day of its existence. Neighbours Jordan, which took the West Bank, and Egypt, which occupied Gaza, didn’t use daylight saving. Israel finished daylight saving after 1957 but used it again in 1974 and 1975 following the global energy crisis caused by the Yom Kippur War.

Israel has had summer time each year since 1985, but in the following year the interior minister, Yitzhak Peretz, who was opposed to daylight saving, wouldn’t sign the annual order. Ultra-Orthodox rabbis such as Peretz feared that daylight saving would mean poor attendance at morning prayers and that shops and other establishments would open before sundown on Saturday, desecrating the Sabbath. There was public uproar over his non-signing that included a demonstration outside his house and a legal battle that nearly got to the High Court. The communications minister, Amnon Rubenstein, said his department would use daylight saving in any case. Energy minister Moshe Shahal stated that the scheme saved Israel up to US$6 million a year in energy and reduced traffic fatalities. In a fiery Cabinet meeting on 20 April 1986, Peretz yelled at Shahal, a supporter of daylight saving: “You have been shedding my blood! You have been organizing a public lynch campaign against me! I would not be surprised if what you have done will lead to attempts on my life!”[1] Cabinet voted 11 to 6 to continue with daylight saving.

The start and end dates of the summer time period were the subject of much contention over many years. Most of the secular population preferred daylight saving to extend as long as possible, whereas most religious people didn’t want it to start until after Passover and wanted it finished before Yom Kippur. Dates for each of these events can vary by a month or so, which means the daylight saving span could be quite different from year to year. This made it difficult for trade, computer systems, and society in general. Economists estimated that Israel would save US$80 million a year by standardising its calendar.

In 2013, after plenty of haggling, disagreements and compromises over the decades, Israel set its daylight saving period as the Friday before the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October to align closely with Europe. The move hasn’t stopped the opponents of daylight saving, with member Yifat Kariv introducing a bill in October 2014 to cancel the measure. The interior ministry estimated in 2015 that summer time saved the Israeli economy NIS 300 million or US$75 million a year. The ministry also believed that people’s physical and mental health was improved and road safety was better.

Confusion still reigns over daylight saving times in the region as the Palestinian National Authority, formed in 1994, has set different start and finish dates to Israel. On one occasion, the disparity was a blessing. In September 1999, four young Israeli Arabs received two packages of explosives set by Palestinian bomb makers to blow up on 5 September at 6:30 p.m. Two of the men drove a car with one of the devices to Haifa and the other pair with the second package in another car to Tiberias. One man from each team was to board a bus from each city to Jerusalem with the bomb package to go off during the trip, but to disembark part way and rejoin their accomplice in the car, leaving the bag on the bus. The first pair had parked their car, and one man had got out, while the other two were still driving to their initial destination when the bombs exploded, at 5:30 p.m., killing three of the terrorists. They had been operating on Israeli time, which had gone back an hour after daylight saving finished on 3 September, but the bomb makers had used Palestinian time, which was still an hour ahead until 15 October. The lives of perhaps several dozen innocent passengers on two buses were spared.”

[1] Michael Ross, “Daylight time provokes Israel’s religious right”, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, United States, 18 May 1986, at http://articles.latimes.com/1986-05-18/news/mn-20958_1_daylight-saving-time

DST book cover