Jerusalem – The families of 12 missing Iranian Jews, believed to be imprisoned in Teheran, have written to Israeli Prime Minister Olmert urging him to meet with them before Israel undertakes a pending deal with the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

The families have said they will demand that Israel not release any information concerning the fate of four missing Iranian officials to the United Nations without receiving information on their disappeared loved ones as well.

The 12 Jews were arrested in the 1990s as they sought to escape from Iran across the Pakistan border. The Iranian diplomats were captured by Christian militia forces in South Lebanon in 1982 during the first Israeli-Lebanon War.

Among the missing Jews is Babak Teherani, the son of Los Angeles parents, Ilana Cohen-Teherani and Yousef Shaouliian Teherani who is believed to have been arrested in Iran 14 years ago while attempting to cross the border and was spotted in a Tehran prison several years after his disappearance. Babak was arrested near the Iran-Pakistan just prior to his attempt to escape, on or around June 10, 1994 and was only 14 went he disappeared. A Muslim neighbor from Tehran, who later joined the Teherani family in Los Angeles, has testified that he saw the boy, and other of the 11 missing Jews, alive and well in a dark and damp Tehran prison in 1996.

The urgent letter, sent to the prime minister by the Teherani family’s attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center human rights organization, demands that the prime minister not authorize the transfer of information regarding the missing Iranian diplomats until such time as reliable and detailed information is received about the fate of all the missing Iranian Jews. The families have never received any acknowledgment of their loved ones’ arrests, status or whereabouts from the Islamic regime.

The families wrote in the letter that their feeling of abandonment is deep and they feel that their case has been pushed aside and forgotten by all, including the government and Israeli public.

The letter to the PM argues that there be a “quid pro quo” on information about their family members in exchange for the release of the details on the fate of the missing Iranians. According to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the lawyer for the families of the 12 missing Iranians, “Saving the lives of these missing Jews, still being held in Iranian prisons after years of torture must be a central component of any deal with Hezbollah …”

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.