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Presidential Candidate Rejects Anti-Mizrahi Racism Charges

Professor Dan Shechtman says Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri blew his comments about Mizrahi music out of proportion.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 2/17/2014, 5:59 PM

Nobel Prize winner Daniel Shechtman (file)
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Shechtman (file)
Flash90

Shas chairman Aryeh Deri issued sharp criticism against presidential candidate Professor Daniel Shechtman Monday, claiming Shechtman's comments on the arts show his unreadiness to lead. 

"The words of Professor Shechtman prove that his arrogance has not completely faded, and that many [people] are detached from an entire community," Deri stated at a Shas faction meeting. "They have not yet internalized that statements like this have no place." 

"In the event that Mr. Shechtman does not clarify his remarks and retract them, we should retract his presidential candidacy," he added. 

Deri's reaction stemmed from controversial statements Shechtman made Sunday night on Army Radio, whereby the Nobel Laureate expressed a preference for music that was not of Sephardic origin. 

"To sustain Israel, we need engineers, doctors, and people like that will build the economy," Shechtman stated then. "To sustain the soul we need poets, and painters, and singers - not only of Mizrachi (Sephardi) origin. It's preferable that we have other singers." 

Shechtman's associates denied that the statements were discriminatory, and passed off the allegations as baseless. 

"It's funny that [Shechtman] is being portrayed as having a lack of sympathy for Mizrahi music when the same person travels to Haifa to see [singer] Michael Peretz play at Romema Hall," a source close to Shechtman stated. "If you listen closely to the whole statement in context, the Professor was merely saying that he wishes to give a voice to a wider variety of artists in the Arts and Humanities."