In the midst of growing violence throughout the Middle East mostly the result of numerous Islamist terrorism networks — including Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, al-Qaida and factions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday night that a career intelligence officer, Yossi Cohen, will being sworn in as the new chief for the much heralded and much maligned Jewish secret service, Mossad.
Mossad, or al-Mōsād, translated into English means “the Institute.” It’s full name is HaMossad leModiʿin uleTafkidim Meyuḥadim which means the “Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations” and it is Israel’s answer to America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Great Britain’s MI-5 (domestic intelligence) and MI-6 (foreign intelligence).
According to news outlets in the Jewish State, current Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo will leave the powerful intelligence agency in January 2016. With Cohen’s appointment, three of Israel’s top national security officials — the director of Mossad, the chief of Shabak, and the national police commissioner — are observant Jews.
Yossi Cohen in the past served as the National Security Adviser and head of Israel’s National Security Council. Before that he served as deputy chief of Mossad.
According to Israeli media, the 54-year-old Cohen is considered to be a “safe” appointment and is non-controversial. He’s expected to be confirmed without significant opposition. Born in Jerusalem to a predominately right-wing family. His father is considered a hero who fought in Menachem Begin’s National Military Organization in the Land of Israel before it became a recognized independent nation. He was a leader in that Zionist paramilitary organization which operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948.
Cohen joined Mossad when he was 22-years-old in 1984. He’s known for being the only cadet who would always wear a yarmulke at Mossad’s officers training academy which he continued to do as the head of the Mossad offices in Europe. While not considered especially political, in the early 1990s Cohen did complete an undergraduate degree program in Political Science at Bar-Ilan University.
When Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his choice to lead Israel’s premier security agency, he stated: “The Mossad will continue to fortify our strength through actions and operations which are better left unstated. The intelligence service must match its capacities with the cyber era and advanced technology. It must remain among the best intelligence and spying agencies in the world. On the operational side, the Mossad will continue to help develop diplomatic relations around the world, including with Arab and Muslim countries.”