עידן גרינבאום, יו"ר פסטיבל עין גב: זו אינה דרכנו

Veteran singer and songwriter Shlomo Gronich caused an uproar on Tuesday evening after he made racist comments during a performance at the Ein Gev Festival on the shores of the Sea of ​​Galilee.

"You are a great audience, everyone here is Ashkenazi who sings beautifully and there is not a single chachchahim (a derogatory slang word alluding to Israeli Jews of Middle Eastern background -ed.)," Gronich said before leaving the stage.

Journalist Nesli Barda, who hosted the festival, put Gronich in his place and said, "Did you not notice that the entire people of Israel are sitting here in the audience and that is why this audience is so beautiful and the songs belong to everyone - to Gronich, to Barda, to everyone."

Gronich then returned to the stage and said, "I apologize, it was a slip of the tongue."

Gronich later said, "In light of the slip of the tongue I had tonight during my performance at the Ein Gev Festival, I truly regret the silly statement. I do not know where this bad joke came from. I apologize from the bottom of my heart. In light of my collaborations over the years, I cannot be suspected of being racist."

Responding to the remarks, former Minister Aryeh Deri said, "A disgrace, sickening racism. Gronich, you are a despicable man. And more than that: How has he not been thrown out from this festival yet?"

Minister of Culture and Sports Hili Tropper responded to Gronich's remarks and said, "I am sad about the ugly, divisive and unnecessary things said tonight by Shlomo Gronich. We love an audience that has everyone in it. We love the entire people of Israel."

"It was good that Nesli Barda, who knew how to face the ugliness in real time and to mention the obvious was there, and it's good that Gronich apologized."

MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) said, "Shlomo Gronich tonight joins a chain of racist and arrogant speakers of the Israeli left."

"Dudu Topaz, Oded Kotler, Tiki Dayan, Anat Waxman are the real face of the enlightened, cultural and peace-seeking camp," Akunis added.

The management of the Ein Gev Festival issued a statement in which it strongly condemned Gronich's remarks.

"Any disparaging statement made in public is inappropriate and we do not accept it at all. The host was asked to apologize and condemn the remarks on stage in front of the audience at the event and the listeners at home, and we also apologize. This is not the way of the Ein Gev Festival, the oldest festival in Israel, and it is not the spirit of any event in our country."

"The Ein Gev Festival, which returned this year after two years of a break due to the coronavirus, is an expression of the Israeli spirit. This statement harmed the spirit of the festival and we reject and condemn it with disgust," the statement added.

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