Catholic Church accuses Israel radio of discrimination


NAZARETH, Israel (December 4, 1997 10:41 a.m. EST -

The Roman Catholic Church accused Israel's state radio of discrimination Thursday, demanding it reinstate Christian programming dropped from the schedule of its Arabic service.

"They have cut off an entire community. This is evident religious discrimination and we want the situation to be changed," Monsignor Giacintio-Boulos Marcuzzo, the Latin Patriarchy representative in Israel, told AFP.

Marcuzzo, based in the Israeli town of Nazareth, sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Nov. 30 asking him to intervene to bring Christian progamming back to Voice of Israel's Arabic service.

"Our citizens have the right, as do all citizens, to have their program. (The canceling) is an evident discrimination," said the letter, a copy of which was received by AFP.

"The programs of other communities were completely respected, like the Muslims who have daily, weekly and seasonal programs. We are happy for the Muslims, but why this discrimination against the Christians?" it said.

The radio dropped regular monthly programs by all Christian churches in September 1996, and reduced the number of special seasonal services, citing budget constraints.

"There have been a few Greek Orthodox holiday services on, but very few. And Catholic services have been completely canceled," Marcuzzo said.

"If they had reduced programs across the board for all communities, including Muslims, we would have accepted. But instead they completely eliminated the Christian community,'' he said.