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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Talking with Siri about 'Zionist Time'

In 1999, three would-be Palestinian terrorists were killed by the time bomb they were transporting to its intended target when the explosive device went off in their car an hour earlier than they'd expected.  It was widely reported at the time that the premature detonation occured because of confusion over what time it actually was. 

It seems Israel had recently switched over its clocks to summer Daylight Savings Time, while the Palestinian Authority had remained stubbornly on standard time; having refused to conform to 'Zionist time'.  As Dave Barry would say, 'You can't make this stuff up'.

 I was reminded of this incident recently when my iPad - which I use as my alarm clock - woke me up an hour late.  When I tried to figure out why the time on my iPad was suddenly set an hour earlier than all the other clocks in our house, I discovered that the iPad 'Time and Date' function was set to automatically update itself (I guess this was the default setting in the most recent IOS update).

The result was that the iPad checked my location... determined that I lived in Bethlehem (hey, maybe the folks in Cupertino know their Bible; Genesis 35:16-20)... and decided that Bethlehem was an hour behind Efrat (which is on Zionist Israel time).  At least that was my theory.

The problem with that theory is that I hadn't heard anything in recent years about the Palestinian Authority and Israel keeping different clocks in the summer.

So I went onto the web and did a Google search for, "What time is it in Bethlehem?"  The result indicated that Bethlehem (listed as located in the 'West Bank' and sporting a Palestinian flag), was on the same time as Israel.

Hmmmm.... now I was really confused.  If the PA and Israel are on the same time, why had my iPad decided otherwise? 

Then I remembered that I have the ability to ask at least one of my Apple products questions, so I took out my iPhone (which I now noticed for the first time was displaying the same time as my iPad) and started interrogating Siri:

Me:  Siri, what time is it?

Siri: Sorry Dave, I don't know what time it is where you are.

Me:  Okay, what time is it Bethlehem?

Siri:  The Time in Bethlehem, Palestine is [an hour earlier than my watch]

Whoa!  Not only was the time she'd given me for Bethlehem an hour earlier than my watch was showing, but Siri seemed to be under the impression that Bethlehem was in the not-yet-created state of Palestine. 

I then went on to check a couple of more locations:

Me:  Siri, What time is it in Ramallah?

Siri:  The time in Ramallah, Palestine is [an hour earlier than my watch]

Me:  What time is it in Efrat?

Siri:  The time in Efrat, Palestine is [an hour earlier than my watch]

What??!!!!  Now Siri was telling me that my very Israeli town of Efrat was located in Palestine??!!! 

So I asked her a few more questions:

Me:  What time is it in Tel Aviv?

Siri:  The Time in Tel Aviv is [same time as my watch]

Me:  What time is it in Haifa?

Siri:  The Time in Haifa is [same time as my watch]

Me:  What time is it in Jerusalem?

Siri:  The Time in Jerusalem is [same time as my watch]

Well, that was a relief!  At least Siri recognized the major Israeli cities as being on Israeli time.

But something was wrong.  I asked her about the three Israeli cities again and noticed that while she had given the correct Israeli time... unlike Bethlehem and Ramallah, with Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem she'd neglected to volunteer the name of the country in which the cities are located!

By now I was smelling a conspiracy, so I asked Siri a series of casual questions that I figured would confirm my suspicions:

Me:  Siri, what time is it in Denmark?

Siri:  The time in Copenhagen, Denmark is...

Me:  What time is it in Japan?

Siri:  The time in Tokyo, Japan is...

Me:  What time is it in France?

Siri:  The time in Paris, France is...

Me (finally ready to deliver the coup de grâce):  Siri, what time is it in Israel?

Siri:  The time in Jerusalem, Israel is...


Well, that totally killed my conspiracy, theory!  But just to be thorough, I asked one last question:

Me:  Siri, what time is it in Palestine?

Siri:  Sorry Dave, I don't know what time it is in Palestine.

You all now have all the information at your fingertips that I do.  Any theories?

Posted by David Bogner on July 4, 2012 | Permalink


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Interesting situation. My theory is that it demonstrates that the liberals who probably programmed it do, in fact, operate on emotion, not logic or facts. Therefore, it felt
just and compassionate to award, in this symbolic way, recognition to the 'oppressed' Palestinians. Of course, the limits of the operating system limited what they could do, thus the inconsistencies that you described. BUT-- at least they can now feel compassionate and wise, as opposed to really thinking the issues through and actually having any skin in the game.

Posted by: Shalom in Cherry Hill | Jul 4, 2012 5:37:21 PM

When querying "What time is it in Bethlehem", Google responds with the time in "Bethlehem, Israel". The same thing happens if you inquire about Bethlehem, Palestine; the response is Bethlehem, Israel. I had the same results for Efrat. The time was the correct time.

Posted by: lrg | Jul 4, 2012 7:47:45 PM

We have a few states in the US which don`t make the change to ST or DST at the same time as the rest of the country. This can become quite confusing when making travel plans.As long as Siri didn`t mess up Jerusalem,we have to forgive her other mistakes

Posted by: ED | Jul 4, 2012 9:06:10 PM

good grief, as Snoopy would have put it..... as if you wouldn't know where your own home is! Just out of curiosity, I googled "Where is Efrat?" to see what would appear, and this was one result:


conspiracy ....?

Posted by: Alex | Jul 4, 2012 10:43:29 PM

Following up on Irg's information, I noticed that while making this query for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, and Ramallah all result in ", Israel", The first two have their time denoted as "IDT", while the last two have their time denoted as "EEST".

Posted by: Isaac | Jul 5, 2012 7:16:58 PM

Has she said "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave" to you yet?

Posted by: bratschegirl | Jul 8, 2012 3:54:52 AM

Siri uses Wolfrum Alpha (I think I'm spelling that right) to calculate all its time, date, and other mathematical calculations, so the problem could be there and not with Siri itself.

Posted by: Amanda | Aug 3, 2012 1:24:04 AM

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