Holocaust survivor asks Israel not to deport his rescuer’s great-granddaughter

‘I’m ashamed of my country that my help is even needed,’ says Simi Liebel about refusal to extend residency of Marloes Sonnenveld

Marloes Sonnenveld, right, with her brother in Rosh Hanikra, January 2021. (Kan via JTA)
Marloes Sonnenveld, right, with her brother in Rosh Hanikra, January 2021. (Kan via JTA)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — A Holocaust survivor has been pleading with the government to allow the Dutch great-granddaughter of his rescuer to live in Israel with her parents.

Simi Liebel has written to the Interior Ministry, asking it to reverse its rejection of the residency application of Marloes Sonnenveld, a university student studying in Jerusalem. Her great-grandmother, Truus Meijerink, hid Liebel in her home for three years.

“I feel sad that I even need to help her,” Liebel told the Kan public broadcaster in a report aired Sunday. “I’m ashamed of my country that my help is even needed. But I will do anything.”

Sonnenveld, who is living in Israel on a student visa, had her application to extend the visa declined last year.

Israel’s law allows Righteous among the Nations — non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust — to live in the country and become citizens. The law extends to their children and grandchildren, but not to their great-grandchildren.

Sonnenveld’s mother, Tabitha de Boks, and her brother are living in Israel. They came in the footsteps of de Boks’ parents, who settled in Israel’s north 15 years ago. Sonnenveld, who like her mother speaks Hebrew fluently, calls Israel her true home.

In 2018, the Interior Ministry declined to extend the visas of two women with a similar story: the great-granddaughters of Palo and Ana Dudas, a righteous couple from Serbia. But following appeals, the two women were allowed to remain with their mother in Israel.

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