Rami Sadan, chairman of the Channel 10 board of directors, has published an open letter to the ultra-Orthodox party Shas in which he denies making derogatory remarks about the party and its chairman Arye Dery.
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The remarks were reportedly made during the board meeting in which Sadan presented his candidacy for chairman, as reported by Haaretz this week. Publication of the remarks resulted in calls for his resignation by Dery, the channel's CEO Yossi Warshavsky and others.
"I write to you with a bleeding heart, because I no longer have the strength to remain silent," Sadan wrote. "For the past week my blood has been spilled, for no purpose."
A racist and hater of Mizrahim cannot serve in a public position, he noted, but stressed: "It's impossible that I could think or express hatred. I have lived for many years in the company of Sephardim and enjoyed it."
"The board meeting at which I am supposed to have said those shocking things was 10 days ago. How come they didn't come out immediately, but only after I was appointed to the post? Is that believable? Your eyes have been blinded by false images."
The only word from he quotes that he had used was "elites," Sadan said, adding that "we have to open up Channel 10 not only to the elites but to the entire public: Haredi, Sephardi, settlers, Russians and Arabs."
"In recent days, I have met a wonderful Moroccan woman for the purposes of marriage," Sadan wrote. "Does that sound like a person who hates Sephardim? Who hates Shas?"
The remarks Sadan is reported to have made were: “Let’s admit the truth, I, like you in the elite, detest Shas and that thief Arye Dery. But we, as an elite, need to reach beyond the channel’s usual circles, to appeal to the Shas audience, to Masuda from Sderot.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Friday with Dery to discuss the coalition crisis that erupted in the wake of Sadan's reported remarks. They are due to meet again after the Shavuot holiday.
The High Court of Justice decided against freezing Sadan's appointment on Friday. Responding to a petition by four Shas deputy mayors, the court said that Sadan can continue to serve in his current position, but ordered the attorney general, the Second Authority for TV and Radio and Sadan himself to respond to the petition within a week.
The authority announced on Thursday that it was looking into Sadan's remarks.