Aryeh Deri, the Minister for the Development of the Periphery, the Negev and the Galilee, has requested a special government debate about new banknotes, which commemorate famous Israeli poet, coming into circulation.
None of the new bills feature Mizrahi poets (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent), hence Deri's call to convene a discussion on the matter.
The new NIS 200 bill is expected to make its debut next month. It features a portrait of Nathan Alterman, a famed Israeli poet and playwright who passed away in 1970.
Deri noted that the April 2013 government debate during which the new bills were approved, the prime minister said that there is also space to commemorate Sephardi poets. Deri claims in his letter that despite Netanyahu's statements, two-and-a-half years have passed since and no Mizrahi poets have appeared on Israel's banknotes.
"People of Mizrahi descent make up half of the Israeli population and it's not appropriate or reasonable that they should wait dozens of years for the next round of new banknotes," said Deri.
"For 67 years the Mizrahi public has not been represented in state symbols in proportion with its relative population size, nor in prize committees or curricula," he continued.
Deri also complained that not a single Mizrahi made up the 12-person committee that discussed the banknotes. "The reality is that for 67 years there has been no expansive study of history of Jews from Islamic countries, and no representation of Mizrahi poets and writers in schoolbooks. So it's significant to be represented in government symbols."
Deri also did not accept that the only known Mizrahi poets are from the Middle Ages. He further emphasized that it is "fitting that Israel's Mizrahi citizens and their culture will be adequately represented in the state's symbols."