A severely disabled man died of a heart attack Saturday night, two days after his long-term Chinese girlfriend was arrested by the Immigration Police. Uri Lezovsky's friends say that the 63-year-old died of a broken heart after Mei Chianshu was detained.
"It breaks your heart," said one. "Despite his disability, this man just gave and gave all his life. But when he finally gained a woman's love, he died. Perhaps a little more sensitivity would have prevented this."
Chianshu, who had been living here illegally for eight years, was arrested while she, Lezovsky and a lawyer were en route from his home in Metula to the Interior Ministry office in Safed to try to arrange legal residency for her.
Lezovsky was born in Uruguay to parents who had fled Nazi Germany. The family immigrated to Israel in 1949, and in 1960, they moved to Metula.
A stroke suffered shortly after his birth left Lezovsky with severe disablities. "Uri could not even write; he barely managed to finish elementary school," said his brother Alfredo.
Nevertheless, friends said, Lezovsky was determined to support himself rather than live on welfare. As a young man, he worked in agriculture. Later, when his physical condition deteriorated, he bought a van and began transporting people and goods.
Three years ago, his condition worsened again, and he was recognized by the state as 100 percent disabled.
Two years before that, however, he had begun employing Chianshu as a housekeeper, as he was no longer able to do housework himself.
And although his disability entitled him to employ a legal foreign worker, he preferred to retain Chianshu.
Chianshu originally came here eight years ago on a one-week tourist visa. At one point, she was caught by the Immigration Police and posted bail, but continued to remain in Israel illegally rather than leaving.
About two years ago, Alfredo said, a romantic relationship developed between his brother and Chianshu, and Lezovsky began trying to arrange legal status for her.
"It was good for him with her," Alfredo recounted. "He showed me pictures of them embracing, and I was happy for him."
The two had even planned to go to China for a few months to demonstrate the seriousness of their relationship, he added. But before any of that could happen, Chianshu was arrested.
The Interior Ministry, however, said it had no records of Lezovsky making any effort to arrange Chianshu's status before she was arrested. Only after she was arrested did he requested a hearing, it said, and the ministry acceded.
Few people in Metula blamed the authorities. The police "did what they were supposed to," said Micha Pomeransky, a friend of Lezovsky's.
Alfredo, however, felt the police should have exercised better judgment. "We asked them to consider him - he was a disabled man whose looks were distorted, and women did not seek him out. We thought that finally he had found love, but the state wouldn't let him have it. He never asked the state for anything; his only request was to live with his partner."
Lezovsky was buried in Metula on Sunday, with Chianshu present.
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