Family of Righteous Among the Nations Let Into Israel Only After 10-hour Airport Grilling

Maria Blyshchyk's relatives, who wanted to visit descendants of Holocaust survivor saved by her, were allowed into the country only after inquiries by lawyer and Haaretz

Passport control at Ben-Gurion Airport, February 27, 2019.
Ofer Vaknin

The family of a Ukranian Righteous Among the Nations was refused entry into Israel upon attempting to enter the country to visit the family of a Holocaust survivor she saved.

The four family members, children and grandchildren of Maria Blyshchyk, were held by immigration authorities for 10 hours of questioning, and only released after inquiries by a lawyer and by Haaretz.

>> Read more: U.S. member of Jewish-Arab NGO questioned, separated from luggage at Israel's airportIsrael bars entry to British woman visiting her partner, a Somali asylum seeker

Blyshchyk's family, all Ukrainian nationals, arrived in Israel Tuesday to visit with family members of Fania Bas, a Holocaust survivor their grandmother saved, who passed away about a month ago. Fania's son Yonatan, his wife Iris and their daughter Sharon keep in close contact with the Blyshchyks, who have visited Israel many times before.

Despite this, when they arrived at the airport with return tickets in hand and documents stating that they are descendants of a Righteous Among the Nations, they were questioned.

According to the family, the immigration officials disparaged them, saying that they came to live in Israel, and claimed that they are neither tourists nor the children of a Righteous Among the Nations. The Bas family tried to invite the family through the Interior Ministry before their visit, but were told that they could not, as they "could not prove a connection" to the family.

"Her family saved my mother and my family in the Holocaust," said Yonatan Bas, 71. "This is an unparalleled scandal, they're abusing them." Yonatan's daughter, Sharon Bas-Maor, added: "My grandmother and us kept in touch with them for her whole life. Before she died, her last will was that we would care for them and keep in contact. I've been waiting for them at the airport since 10 A.M., and they weren't ready to let them in until we turned the world upside-down, it's infuriating."

Immigration authorities told the Blyshchyk family that they were supposed to board a 9 P.M. flight back to Ukraine. According to the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, the family "arrived at the airport without an organized invitation as is expected. Once they were brought in for questioning, they explained the background of their arrival and their entry was allowed after the data was checked."