Don't ask a Jerusalemite what time it is

In this part of the world, it is not just politics that people can't agree about. They can't even agree about the time of day. If three people were stopped on the streets of Jerusalem this moment and asked the hour, they are liable to give three different answers, depending on whether they're wearing Western clothing, Hasidic clothing, or Arab dress.

Since Aug. 3 at midnight, when clocks were supposed to be moved ahead one hour, Israel has officially been on summer time. But thousands of Jews in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter of Jerusalem and most of the 100,000 Arabs of east Jerusalem have their own idea about what time the sun rose this morning.

The government instituted summer time only after being forced to do so by a court order. The National Religious Party, one of the mainstays of Prime Minister Menachem Begin's coalition government, feared that summer time would lead to mass desecration of the Sabbath since cinemas would begin their first show on Saturday night before darkness had ushered out the holy day.

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