The Knesset is set to ratify the introduction of new currency bills on Sunday, a move that incurred the wrath of Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri, who lashed out at the absence of iconic figures of Mizrahi extraction from the new banknotes.
The new bills will feature the images of the poets Rachel (NIS 20), Shaul Tchernichovsky (NIS 50), Leah Goldberg (NIS 100) and Natan Alterman (NIS 200). Pending government approval, the bills for NIS 50 200 will enter circulation in a few months, while the remaining two will be introduced to the market in the spring of 2014. The old bills are set to go out of circulation permanently in 2017.
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Dery decried the fact that the four cultural colossuses represented on the notes – a departure from the previous bills, which all feature prominent statesmen – are exclusively European Jews, or Ashkenzaim, and not one representative of Mizrahim - descendents of Jews from the Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa – was chosen for the posthumous honor.
The new banknotes featuring Israeli poets.
"I urge government ministers to not raise their hands in favor of the new bills," Deri told Ynet. "It is unconscionable that not one Mizrahi poet could be found for embedding his portrait on the banknotes. Money adorned with an image of a Mizrahi figure is not worth less."
"The new bills are continuous with the exclusion of Mizrahim from Israel Prize awards, and all decision-making institutions in Israel," he added. "Since the swearing in of the current government racism is rampant in all areas."
Since his return to politics last year, following a prison sentence for corruption, Deri has been vocal on what he perceives as lingering racism against Mizrahi Jews in Israeli society.
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