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.

Nadia Speaks Out

Such A Boss Did Not Deserve Someone Of Eli's Caliber

Nadia Cohen, Eli Cohen's widow, gave the following address at the Knesset, in May, 1998, as an introduction to a special performance of the play "Eli Cohen" by Israeli Theater Productions.


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My children were raised from infancy with stories about Eli, the father whom they never actually knew. He was their father, but wasn't there to listen to them, they did not have the privilege of having Eli lift them in his arms or educate them. I thank them for standing by me, and for having accompanied me until this point.

Eli will always be with us, and we will always feel his presence. He will always accompany us in some way and I feel him every time I lift my head toward the heavens. I feel that Eli is with me, pushing me to continue and remain emotionally stable. My children also feel these same things. I lost a husband, and my children lost a father who was a truly special, truly remarkable man.

Eli volunteered for the service out of a love for the State, for the nation, for this land. Nothing could have stopped him. He could have continued with us, but what can we do? He paid with his life and the family lost a dear person. I thank the nation, the nation that has memorialized him. Eli is viewed by this nation as a hero, and a legend. I am not prepared to have this myth "soiled." His actions and his image will continue to exist in an unparalleled way.

A few days ago, Meir Amit, who was Eli's boss, was interviewed on television. I truly feared this moment. Indeed, I was sick and felt that I was under tremendous pressure. Such a boss did not deserve someone of Eli's caliber, someone who truly served the State.

I did not sleep for nights after watching Meir's response to a question from the journalist, Aharon Barnea. Barnea said to Meir, "Let's talk about Eli Cohen," to which Meir answered with a flip of his hand, as if he had no interest at all in remembering Eli. I will not forget that minute and will not forgive it either.