Friday, April 6, 2012

Spy Eli Cohen ‘Ate Matzah in Damascus’

On May 18, 1965, the Government of Syria executed Eli Cohen, despite protests from world leaders and Israel.
  • He was never allowed a defense at his trial.
  • He was brutally tortured during interrogation in defiance of international humanitarian law
  • His body was never returned to his family.
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Famed Israeli spy Eli Cohen managed to eat matzah on Passover while high in the Syrian elite, his widow says.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/6/2012, 2:06 PM
Nadia Cohen
Nadia Cohen
Flash 90
Israeli spy Eli Cohen managed to eat matzah on Passover even while deeply enmeshed in life among the Syrian elite, his widow Nadia told Arutz Sheva.

Nadia explained that she had just heard the story of Eli’s Passover observance recently. “Just now two people from Syria told me that [Eli] knew that there were Jews in the marketplace. He would watch them from afar, then go and ask to taste some of the matzah,” she said.

“He didn’t want them to know he was Jewish, so he would say, ‘Let me taste some of that thing that you eat only on your week of holiday,’” she explained.

Eli Cohen (PHOTO/LEFT)managed to infiltrate the top ranks of Syrian leadership, and used his status to gather valuable security information, which he sent to Israel. The reports he sent were invaluable in helping Israel take the Golan during the Six Day War, two years after he was caught and executed.

Passover had a special meaning for the Cohen family, Nadia related. “Eli came to Israel from Egypt, he made aliyah in 1956,” she said.

The family has found a measure of comfort in the decades since his death, she said. “For many years there was a lot of sadness, we felt that the ground had fallen out from beneath our feet,” she recalled. “But slowly, slowly the family expanded, there are children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren… This year we will celebrate theholiday at my daughter Sophie’s house, we will keep smiling.”


Voice of Eli Cohen, 'Our Man in Damascus,' is Heard

The voice of hanged spy Eli Cohen was heard in Israel today – in a long-lost recording of an interview he once conducted with Radio Damascus.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/30/2010, 3:21 PM / Last Update: 5/30/2010, 3:28 PM

Israel news photo
The voice of “Our Man in Damascus,” Eli Cohen, was heard in Israel for the first time in decades today – in a long-lost recording of an interview he once conducted with Radio Damascus.
Eli Cohen, alias Kamal Amin Ta'abet, rose up in the ranks of the Syrian Defense Ministry and was a candidate for the position of Deputy Defense Minister – until it was discovered that he was actually an Israeli spy and had been passing critical information to Israel every day for three years. An Israeli Jew who was born in Egypt, he moved to Argentina to create his cover as the son of Syrian expatriates. Cohen was hanged in Damascus in May 1965.
His widow, Nadia, an Iraqi Jewess whom he wed in 1959 and mother of his three children, never remarried. “We weren’t so surprised to hear of this recording,” she toldIsrael National News (INN) Sunday, shortly after the recording was played on Army Radio, “because we knew about it – but shortly after we first heard it, it disappeared, never to be heard from for 45 years. We tried to get it from the party that took it, but in vain – until Army Radio reporter Jackie Hugi came along and was able to get this emotional surprise for us.”
Israel's Greatest SpyCohen was considered Israel’s greatest spy, revealing information about the Syrian water project to divert Jordan River waters away from Israel and about Syrian militarypositions in the Golan Heights. The information was used to tremendous advantage: In early 1964, the Israeli Air Force put an end to the Syrian water diversion scheme by shelling and bombing the equipment involved; during the Six-Day War in 1967, his information helped Israel capture the Golan Heights in two days.
At one point in 1962, he was interviewed on Radio Damascus, and asked various questions about life in Argentina compared with Syria and the like. Little did the interviewer or listeners dream that Hawaja [Mr.] Kamal Amin Ta'abet was actually Eli Cohen from Bat Yam, Israel. He said that in some ways, Syria was nicer than he had thought it would be, and answered questions about the cultural life of the Syrian community in Argentina. He was careful not to mention names or other specifics.
Speaking with INN, Nadia bemoaned the ongoing punishment by Syria of her family: “They continue to ignore my requests to tell us where Eli is buried. We live under constant punishment, and our pain does not end… My children have suffered greatly; two of them barely remember him, while none of them were ever able to enjoy experiences of fatherly love or support. He was an amazing man, and would have been an amazing father.”
The entire recording, in Arabic, will be played on Israel's  Army Radio at 7 p.m. this evening.