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Sylvia Rafael

Sylvia Rafael: The Life and Death of a Mossad Spy

Ram Oren
Moti Kfir
Translated and Annotated by Ronna Englesberg
Foreword by Shlomo Gazit
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zwdx4
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  • Book Info
    Sylvia Rafael
    Book Description:

    "There is a lack of quiet in Sylvia that craves for action.... She knows that she is special and that she possesses unusual and varied abilities." -- From the Mossad's psychological evaluation of Sylvia Rafael

    When Moti Kfir, head of the Academy for Special Operations of the Mossad, first interviewed Sylvia Rafael in a coffee shop, he knew she would make a great combatant for Israel's intelligence agency. She was outgoing, resourceful, brilliant, and had a talent for bonding with others. When Kfir warned her that the mysterious job they'd met to discuss could be dangerous, she simply sat back comfortably in her chair and smiled.

    Sylvia Rafael is the page-turning account of a young, dedicated agent as told by the man who trained her. Drawing on extensive research and interviews, authors Ram Oren and Moti Kfir tell the story of Rafael's rise to prominence within the Mossad and her intelligence work trying to locate Ali Hassan Salameh -- the leader of Palestine's Black September organization and the mastermind behind the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Her team's misidentification of their mark would eventually lead to her arrest and imprisonment for murder and espionage.

    Now available in English for the first time, Sylvia Rafael offers new insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its history, and its human cost. It is a gripping, authentic spy story about a fearless defender of the Jewish people.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4696-6
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Authors’ Note
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Shlomo Gazit

    Among members of the intelligence community there is a saying: Intelligence is the second oldest profession in the world; the only difference between that and the oldest is that the intelligence profession has lesser morals.

    The dramatic story of Sylvia Rafael, a Jewish Zionist and clandestine combatant of the Special Operations Unit of the Mossad, casts doubt on this adage. On the one hand, it illustrates intelligence operatives’ belief that any subterfuge, no matter how questionable, is legitimate in order to achieve their aims. On the other hand, it shows how those operatives must maintain strict self-control and absolute loyalty—...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. 1 A Murder Plot
    (pp. 1-6)

    The nine heavily armed men sat around the table. They were dark skinned, dark haired, and stony faced. Copies of a color photo were scattered in front of them. Each of them picked up a copy and studied it carefully. It showed a tall, elegantly dressed woman emerging from a fashionable boutique in downtown Oslo, the capital of Norway. On her arm was a shopping bag bearing the boutique’s logo: Stimm and Stohrs.

    The photo had obviously been taken with a magnifying lens from a long way away, but despite the distance, the woman’s face could be clearly seen. She...

  7. 2 An Unexpected Visitor
    (pp. 7-34)

    Clouds of dust blowing up from the desert hid the sun and the large sheep enclosures of the South African town of Graaff-Reinet. Through the thick fog, a loaded truck slowly made its way along the torrid highway. In the drivers’ cabin sat two men. One gripped the steering wheel, and the other dozed, his head on his chest.

    When the truck neared the northernmost houses of the town, the driver stopped by the side of the road. “Wake up,” he said, shaking his passenger. “We’ve arrived.” He pointed at the small houses and the white steeples of the Dutch...

  8. 3 Night in an Arab Village
    (pp. 35-62)

    It was evening in late October 1962. The summer heat had passed, and there was a light chill of early autumn in the air. Sylvia was in bed readingThe Jewish Warsby Josephus Flavius.¹ After a tiring day at school, she had decided to read a chapter or two before falling asleep. Suddenly the phone rang. Someone she didn’t know apologized for the late hour, introducing himself as “Gadi,” a representative of a government agency looking for employees. He asked if she was prepared to meet with him. “I have an interesting offer for you,” he said.

    Sylvia didn’t...

  9. 4 Arrest and Investigation
    (pp. 63-108)

    Georgina Rizk was a pretty, round-faced girl with auburn hair. Her father, a dark-skinned Christian Lebanese tycoon, always appeared in public dressed elegantly; her light-skinned, fair-haired mother was a native of Hungary. The mansion in which the family lived—three floors filled with elegant furniture and manned by an army of servants—was located in Beirut’s Ashrafiya Quarter, which was populated by other affluent Christians. The house was located a short distance from the golden sands of a beach that bordered the blue Mediterranean.

    Georgina and her sister, Felicia, studied at a private school, one of the best and most...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 Imprisoned in a Refugee Camp
    (pp. 109-172)

    Beirut was aptly called “Paris of the Middle East.” The former French occupation had left behind a fragrance of elegance and style that lingered long after French political influence ended. Beirut boasted many wealthy residents and large Arab banks, pleasure-seeking tourists, fabulous nightclubs, and beautiful women who could be purchased for the right price. During the day, Beirut was a bustling commercial city. Carefree vacationers sunned themselves on its golden beaches, and passengers disembarked from cruise ships on their way to sightseeing tours around the city. In the evening the restaurants and clubs opened their doors, and the dance floors...

  12. 6 A Man in Women’s Clothing
    (pp. 173-196)

    After Sylvia was hospitalized, another combatant from the Special Operations Unit was recruited to take her place. He arrived in Beirut on April 4, 1973. On that same day, he was joined by five more combatants from the Special Operations Unit. They arrived on separate flights from various European locations and rented cars from Avis and Hertz at the airport. They booked into three different hotels on the Beirut promenade, where rooms had been reserved for them by European travel agencies. Along with the combatant who had taken Sylvia’s place, they left their luggage in their rooms and set out...

  13. 7 A Love Story
    (pp. 197-248)

    The arrested members of the Special Operations Unit were transported in separate patrol wagons to Oslo police headquarters, which took over the investigation after it became clear that the killing in Lillehammer was not drug related. From the moment it emerged that representatives of the Mossad had killed Ahmad Bushiki and that this could potentially harm Norwegian-Israeli diplomatic relations, the investigation was given top priority. The Norwegian police recruited its best interrogators and drew a veil of secrecy around the investigation. When Sylvia arrived outside police headquarters, reporters and news photographers attempted to get close to her, thrusting microphones in...

  14. A Personal Afterword
    (pp. 249-252)
    Moti Kfir

    No story ever truly ends, and no account of a person’s life can be all-inclusive. Did we manage in this book to portray Sylvia Rafael in all her many facets? Do the events described here portray who she truly was? Not necessarily.

    During my years of working in the Mossad, friends often expressed curiosity about the secret operator, seeking to understand what makes such a person stand out from others. In recent years some of our greatest heroes have been revealed through the media, books, and films: Eli Cohen, Wolfgang Lotz, Baruch Mizrahi, Ya’akova Cohen, Max Bennett, and now Sylvia...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 253-260)
  16. Index
    (pp. 261-268)