Distraught relatives question Israel

 Iranian Jews in the US are upset at the news that their missing relatives were murdered, but also at the way the Israeli government delivered it. The Times of Israel reports: 

WASHINGTON — Persian Jewish families in Los
Angeles last Thursday were putting the final touches on their plans to
celebrate Nowruz, the Persian spring holiday, when the news from the
Prime Minister’s Office reached America’s West Coast. Now, days afterthe curious announcementdashed
local families’ hopes by revealing that eight Iranian Jews refugees had
been murdered en route to Israel in 1994, Los Angeles’s Persian
community is distraught – not just because of the bitter news itself but
also because of the way in which the Prime Minister’s Office delivered
it.

Community
leader Bijan Khalili said that two Los Angeles-based families whose
relatives disappeared en route to Israel two decades ago were not
contacted by the Prime Minister’s Office before the media release of the
announcement that their family members were murdered. 

“For many years, we were hoping for a sign,
but even now, we received no word of what happened, where it happened,
or by whom,” complained Khalili. Over the weekend, Israel’s Channel 10 revealed more details
surrounding the fate of the eight — part of a group of 11-13 Iranian
Jews who disappeared en route from their home country to Israel in 1994
and 1997.

According to the TV report, the eight who
disappeared in 1994 had been told by Israeli contacts — in an escape
attempt orchestrated by Israel and overseen by officials from the Mossad
and the Jewish Agency — to travel eastward to cross the Pakistani
border in three groups. In what appeared to be a case of mistaken
identity, two of the groups were confused with members of an
anti-government insurgency and killed by government forces, while the
third group was detained by the government, but then released and then
killed by local tribesmen.

Families of the missing Iranian Jews meet with David Meidan on March 20, 2014. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Families of the missing Iranian Jews meet with Israeli official David Meidan on March 20, 2014. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Khalili had many questions about the Israeli government revelation Thursday that the eight had been murdered.

He pointed out that the news was released on
the eve of Nowruz, the joyful spring festival celebrated by all Iranians
regardless of religious orientation.

“We are really upset and I don’t know what
exactly this announcement means,” Khalili said. “I am concerned that
this could be an attempt to turn it into a political matter, because it
isn’t one. This is a humanitarian matter.”

The distinction, he argued, could be crucial.
The Los Angeles Jewish community has counted a total of 13 missing Jews —
of whom eight are accounted for in the Israeli story. The fate of the
remaining five, who disappeared in 1997, he said, is still an unsolved
mystery. The community hopes against hope that at least some of those
five are still alive.

Khalili also does not understand why community
members have a list of 13 missing Jews, when the Israeli government
only acknowledged 11.

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