The Shattered Silence

Title:                  The Shattered Silence

Author:                Zwy Aldouby

Aldouby, Zwy (1971) and Jerrold Ballinger. The Shattered Silence: The Eli Cohen Affair. New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan

LCCN:    73081016

DS126.5 .A685


Date Updated:  October 8, 2015

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

This book is one of several books dedicated to the story of Elie Cohen, the Israeli Mossad covert operative who was caught and executed in Damascus, Syria. Arrested only days before he was to be nominated Deputy Minister of Defense for Syria, he was hanged before the TV cameras. It probably is the definitive account of Elie Cohen’s life in Egypt, Israel and Syria. Very thoroughly researched and written, the depth of the material is superior to other accounts of the Elie Cohen affair.

This book is the story of the Eli Cohen espionage operation run by the Israeli service Mossad against Syria. Cohen, an Israeli assuming the role of an Arab expatriate from Argentina, established high-level entrée into Syrian ruling circles to acquire intelligence on Syrian military, political, and diplomatic matters. Finally caught, he was executed by the Syrians in 1965 despite strenuous Israeli efforts to save him.

Cohen’s information certainly must have been of great value, though an understanding of how vital must await evidence beyond that provided by the authors. Accomplished writers and journalists, they have given the fullest account in English of the Eli Cohen affair, and an insight into Israeli use of talent available to run an effective illegal operation into a denied area. The work is marred, however, by the tendency of the authors to insert what seems to be propaganda against the Syrians and other Arabs. The courage and heroism of Eli Cohen needs no such extraneous comment. Whether, too, all the facts of the case as presented are essentially correct must also await release of further information by the Israelis and the Syrians. How Cohen was caught is still not certain; in 1979 the American Robert Axelrod, in a scholarly article on surprise, wrote that the Syrians may have been alerted by the Israelis, who used Cohen’s intelligence for propaganda by broadcasting a number of secret Syrian cabinet decisions. According to Eisenberg, Dan, and Landau in The Mossad,[2] Cohen was captured by the use of radio direction finding with Soviet assistance.

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[3]

Although it has not yet been possible to authenticate all the material covered in this book, it appears that the authors have compiled a record of Eli Cohen, the Israeli agent who successfully penetrated the Syrian defense establishment prior to his arrest.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[4]

Israeli journalist Zwy Aldouby and American writer Jerrold Ballinger collaborated to reconstruct the fantastic life and death of Israeli master spy Eliahu ben Shaul Cohen. For nearly three years Cohen sent coded intelligence reports to Tel Aviv by radio from Damascus until his radio signal was traced and he was captured, tortured, tried for espionage in a military court, and finally hanged in May 1965.

Counterintelligence Reading

This is one of many books on the Department of Energy Hanford counterintelligence reading list. The entire list is as follows (with links when appropriate.) The entire list is found at Historical Dictionary of Cold War Counterintelligence


Aldouby, Zwy (1971) and Jerrold Ballinger. The Shattered Silence: The Eli Cohen Affair

Black, Ian (1991, 1994) and Benny Morris. Israel’s Secret Wars: A History of Israel’s Intelligence Services

Blitzer, Wolf (1989). Territory of Lies: The Exclusive Story of Jonathan Jay Pollard, The American Who Spied for Israel and How He Was Betrayed

Ostrovsky, Victor (1994). The Other Side of Deception: A Rogue Agent Exposes the Mossad’s Secret Agenda

Ostrovsky, Victor (1990) and Claire Hoy. By Way of Deception: The Making and the Unmaking of a Mossad Officer

Raviv, Dan(1990) and Yossi Melman. Every Spy A Prince: The Complete History of Israel’s Intelligence Community

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 58-59.

[2] Eisenberg, Dennis (1978), Uri Dan and Eli Landau. The Mossad Inside Stories: Israel’s Secret Intelligence Service. New York: Paddington Press

[3] Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature (7th ed Rev.). Washington, DD: Defense Intelligence School, p. 2.

[4] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p.


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2 Responses to The Shattered Silence

  1. Pingback: Historical Dictionary of Cold War Counterintelligence | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: The Mossad Inside Stories | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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