Deri: Why are there no Sephardim on banknotes?

Shas leader demands government correct oversight.

November 29, 2015 17:23
1 minute read.
Israeli shekels

New 200 shekel bill. (photo credit: COURTESY OF THE BANK OF ISRAEL)


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Regional Development Minister Arye Deri on Sunday demanded that the government require forthcoming banknotes to include some Sephardi figures, reviving a contentious issue on the new currency series that has gone largely unmentioned since 2013.

“Israel’s children must also learn about the history of the Jews from Arab countries and Iran, on Jewish poets and writers from the East and on intellectuals who were active in those countries,” Deri said. “The government must make a decision on the banknotes and to commemorate eastern poets that the Bank of Israel will release soon.”

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The Bank of Israel will release the second of four new banknote designs, all featuring poets and authors, in December. The first, a green NIS 50 note featuring Shaul Tchernichovsky, went into circulation in September 2014. The upcoming blue NIS 200 note features author Nathan Alterman.

Almost none of the 16 figures who have previously appeared on the shekel notes were of Sephardic origin. Changing one of the upcoming notes in the series could cause its own backlash, however, as both are meant to feature women (as two previous banknote designs have).

The red NIS 20 note, will have an image of Rachel the Poetess, while the orange NIS 100 will feature Leah Goldberg.

When the cabinet approved the design in 2013, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that a future series would feature a prominent eastern figure. With the current series still in the midst of a multi-year rollout, however, another redesign is not expected for some time.

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