Arye Deri (Shas).
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A firestorm of protest, including a threat by Shas to cease voting with the government in the Knesset, erupted on Tuesday after Rami Sadan, the new chairman of Channel 10, was accused of making racist and disparaging comments about Mizrahi Jews.
Sadan’s comments were allegedly made during a directors meeting of Channel 10 held several days ago.
“Let’s admit the truth, I, like you, am in the elite, hate the Shas movement and the thief [Shas chairman and Interior Minister] Arye Deri. But we, as the elite, need to expand the channel’s circles, and appeal to Shas’s audience, to Massuda from Sderot,” Haaretz quoted Sadan as saying.
The phrase “Massuda from Sderot” is a derogatory term for a Mizrahi woman from a development town in the periphery, such as Sderot.
In the wake of the comments, Shas demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fire Sadan for what the party described as his racist remarks.
In a statement to the press, the party said that as long as Sadan, who is reportedly close to Netanyahu, remained in his position, Shas MKs would vote “as they see fit,” a threat to stop supporting the government in votes in the Knesset.
Deri himself took to Facebook to denounce Sadan, saying that, even in 2016, racism toward Mizrahi Jews still exists in Israel.
“In Israel in 2016 there is racism. In Israel in 2016 people scorn the Mizrahi public.
In Israel in 2016 there are people who look down on an entire community that is part of the State of Israel,” wrote Deri.
“Shas voters are not surplus to requirements, Shas voters are hundreds of thousands of Mizrahi Jews who decided to unite and to lift up their heads to eradicate phenomena like Rami Sadan.
We are here to stay, we are here to say to people like this that, in Israel in 2016, we will not let such comments pass, not in public and not in closed directors’ meetings.”
Shas MKs also called on the attorney general to annul Sadan’s appointment as chairman of Channel 10 “in light of his outrageous and unacceptable comments.”
Sadan later denied he made such comments, telling Channel 2 Online that one of the directors of Channel 10 – who had been a candidate for the chairmanship of Channel 10 – was attempting to stymie his appointment.
Sadan said he never mentioned Shas or Deri in the meeting, and that what he had been trying to express was the danger of keeping the media in the hands of the elite and away from the Russian, Arab and Mizrahi communities.
Following Sadan’s denial, Channel 10 director Golan Yuchpaz supported the Haaretz report, saying he had been present when Sadan made the comments.
“After a storm that as gone on for hours, things should be made clear: Rami Sadan told the members of the [Channel 10] directorate and to me: I hate Shas and Deri exactly as you in the elite do,” Yuchpaz Tweeted.
In a separate Tweet, he added that Sadan had continued his comments with: “We need to reach Prachiah in Sderot.”
Despite Sadan’s protestations, a series of government ministers and members of Knesset lined up to denounce his reported comments.
The Likud Party said in a statement to the press that the allegations against Sadan needed to be verified in light of his denial, but that if he had indeed made the remarks attributed to him “they would be extremely serious, and the prime minister totally rejects them.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, along with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid and the Meretz Party all publicly denounced Sadan’s alleged comments