Poster Advertising a Race in Memory of Eli Cohen, 1965
This is a poster advertising a race and rally to commemorate the end of the shloshim (30-day mourning period) after the death of Eli Cohen.
The event was organised by the Tel Aviv municipality and took place on June 15,1965. It included a race from the Syrian border to Bat Yam, Eli Cohen’s hometown. The poster gives information about the route that includes central roads in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and Bat Yam. After the race, according to the poster, a memorial rally was to take place involving the Yizkor prayer and the lighting of memorial candles. The deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, Eliezer Shechter, concluded the poster by inviting the public to attend the ceremony at the Kings of Israel Square. The letters הי"ד were added after the name of Eli Cohen. These letters are the abbreviation of the term “may God avenge him,” commonly added next to the name of people killed due to being Jewish.
Eli Cohen was born on December 26, 1924 in Alexandria, Egypt. In December 1956, he was forced to leave Egypt and moved to Israel. While living with his wife and three children in Bat Yam, Cohen was recruited by the Mossad (Israel’s National Intelligence Agency). His mission was to live in Syria and to infiltrate the Syrian government. After intensive training, Cohen was given the identity of a Syrian businessman and was sent to Argentina, where he lived from 1961 to 1962, making contacts with important Syrians. In February 1962, Eli Cohen, under the name Kamel Amin Thaabet, moved to Syria and built relations with high-ranking military and political figures.
During the years 1961–1965, Cohen transmitted important intelligence to Israel. One of his most famous accomplishments occurred during a tour of the Golan Heights. Seeming to empathise with the Syrian soldiers who were protecting military fortifications in the hot sun, Cohen suggested that they plant eucalyptus trees. The trees, he said, would fool the Israelis into thinking that there wasn’t anything important in the fields and would provide shade for the soldiers. Later, during the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israel knew exactly where Syrian fortifications were located because they were marked by Eli Cohen’s trees. Cohen repeatedly visited the Syrian-Israeli border and sketched and photographed the area. Cohen’s reports were said to be extremely important to Israel during the subsequent Six-Day War.
The Syrians began to get suspicious when they realised that military information was reaching Israel. A radio transmission from Eli Cohen to his Mossad operators was intercepted in January 1965, following which, Syrian intelligence agents, unaware of the identity of the transmitter, broke into the source of the radio signal and caught Cohen mid message.
Eli Cohen was tortured for four weeks. His trial commenced on February 22, 1965, and he was convicted of espionage and sentenced to death. Members of the international community tried to persuade the Syrians not to execute Cohen, but their pleas were denied. Eli Cohen was publicly hanged in Damascus on May 18, 1965. His body was never returned to his family in Israel.
Cohen became an Israeli hero and villages, schools, neighbourhoods, and institutions were named after him. A memorial stone was erected in his name in the Garden of Missing Soldiers in the National Military Cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Books and films telling his story were publicised, including the English-language book, Our Man in Damascus, by Eli Ben Hanan. In 2013, the Eli Cohen Trail was inaugurated in the Golan Heights, connecting sites that Cohen visited when the Golan was under Syrian rule.
The rally advertised on the poster took place in the Kings of Israel Square (Kikar Malchei Yisrael) next to the Tel Aviv municipality. This square is now known as Rabin Square, since it was the site of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995.
Israel Studies teachers can use this poster when teaching about Eli Cohen or the Six-Day War. It can also be used to demonstrate how Israel commemorates fallen soldiers.
Geography teachers can use the poster and the story of Eli Cohen to teach about the role of the Golan Heights in Israel’s security and the general role of geopolitics in military strategy.
The names of locations mentioned in the poster, such as Arlosoroff and Ibn Gvirol streets in Tel Aviv, can be used when learning about Tel Aviv.
This poster can be useful in Jewish Studies classes when learning about Jewish mourning rituals, such as the shloshim.
What event is being announced in the poster?
Who is being remembered?
When is the event taking place?
According to the poster, what activities were taking place to honour Eli Cohen?
Who is hosting the event?
What are the letters written after Eli Cohen’s name?
What streets did the race pass through?
Reading Between the Lines
The poster is publicising memorial events to commemorate Eli Cohen who was known as “Our man in Damascus.”
Who was Eli Cohen?
What is he famous for?
Why was he given that nickname?
Cohen lived for many years undercover in Argentina and in Damascus.
Try to imagine his life there. What difficulties do you think he faced?
What were the circumstances of his capture and his death?
To this day, the Syrians have refused to return Cohen’s remains.
Why do you think this is?
How did the information provided by Eli Cohen help Israel?
What was the value of this information in the Six-Day War?
What is the strategic importance of the Golan Heights?
Why do you think the event was called the “Race of Bravery”?
The race ended in Bat Yam.
Search for information about Eli Cohen's life and find out why this location was chosen.
Usually, when people die, the letters z”l (may his name be a blessing) are written after their name.
Why is HY”D (may God avenge him) written after Eli Cohen’s name?
What is the significance of the shloshim (the 30-day mourning period)?
In what ways is Eli Cohen remembered in Israel today?
Read information about Eli Cohen or watch a video.
What do you think about his actions?
What does learning about Cohen make you feel?
Eli Cohen endangered his life every day for many years.
Is putting your life in danger justifiable? In which situations?
There are many ways to mark the end of the shloshim. This poster advertises a march and a candle lighting ceremony for Eli Cohen.
What are some other meaningful ways that you can think of to mark the end of the shloshim?
Eli Cohen’s life illustrates one type of bravery.
Search for definitions of bravery in Jewish sources and elsewhere.
The Rabbis in the Talmud give another definition of bravery. Ben Zoma says (Pirkei Avot 4:1): “Who is the mighty one? He who conquers his impulse, as it says, ‘slowness to anger is better than a mighty person and the ruler of his spirit than the conqueror of a city’” (Proverbs 16:32).
How would you define bravery?
Which different types of bravery can you think of?
Think of another way to commemorate Eli Cohen’s life.
Create an advertisement inviting people to your commemoration.
Explain what will take place at the memorial.
Using online tools, create a presentation about people who represent what bravery means to you.
For each person include a picture, a short description of their actions, and an explanation of why you think their actions are an example of bravery.
Municipality of Tel Aviv–Jaffa
March of Bravery
Shloshim [30 days of mourning] Rally for Eli Cohen
Tuesday, 15th Sivan, 5725 (16.6.65)
The March of Bravery will take place from the Syrian border to Bat Yam at the end of the Shloshim for Eli Cohen HY"D [may God avenge him]
The march will arrive at the outskirts of Tel Aviv–Jaffa at 7pm and pass through the following streets: Haifa Road, Arlozoroff, Ibn Gvirol to Kings of Israel Square.
At 7:45pm, there will be a candle ceremony of remembrance. After Yizkor, the march will continue towards Bat Yam through the streets of: Ibn Gvirol, Judah Halevi, Allenby, Moshavot Square, Eilat, Raziel, Yefet to the outskirts of Bat Yam.
City residents are requested to join for the candle lighting ceremony