Who is the Mossad Spy Who Inspired Netflix’s ‘The Spy’ Show?

Published September 16th, 2019 - 12:35 GMT

Netflix has released a new series titled ‘The Spy’. The show stars Sacha Baron Cohen and an Israeli female actress Hadar Ratzon and inspired by the real life events of Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy who worked for the Mossad in the 1960s and posed as an agent in Syria.

The controversial six-episode TV show has been receiving mixed reviews between accusations of Mossad propaganda being sponsored by Netflix for portraying Cohen as the hero who sacrificed his life for his country and people. Others described it as an “astonishing” depiction of Cohen’s life.

So, who is Eli Cohen?

Born in 1924, Cohen was raised by a Jewish family who migrated from Syria’s Aleppo to Alexandria, Egypt. He lived there and helped an undercover Jewish sabotage group, until 1956 when he followed his family to Israel and tried to join the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, but he was rejected.

Cohen then continued his quiet life as a filing clerk in an insurance company in Tel Aviv with his wife, Nadia and his three kids until the Mossad, which has been watching him, asked him to go on a mission.

Cohen was recruited to infiltrate the most influential circles in Syria; including politicians and military officers. His mission was to report back to Israel the top secrets. The Mossad’s choice for Cohen was believed to be his ability to speak French, Arabic and English, plus the fact of his Middle Eastern appearance.

The cover story for Cohen was that he is Kamal Amin Thabet, a Syrian businessman who was moving back to Syria after living in Argentina since 1962.

Between the reputation of having 17 mistresses during his undercover time and hosting orgies for some of the most powerful people in Syria, Cohen was quick to establish a flashy social character and had successfully got his way as a trusted friend of top officials.

He is believed to be behind the 1967 Six-Day War between Arab countries and Israel which resulted in Israel killing dozens of Syrian soldiers and occupying the Golan Heights.

Later on, Cohen became so trusted in his role he almost ran to become Syria's Deputy Defence Minister. However, the Syrian security services, helped by the Soviet Union were able to pinpoint a secret broadcast made inside Damascus and the signal was found to be produced from Cohen’s home.

Eli Cohen’s life had tragically ended after he was subjected to a public trial and sentenced to death for his crimes against Syria.

Photos of his hanged body in Damascus resurfaced on the internet after Netflix’s show was released.

Translation: ‘Photos of Eli Cohen, Israel’s spy in Syria hanged in Marjeh Square in Syria.”

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