Teddy Kollek played key role in forging the CIA-Mossad alliance

By Yossi Melman


Tevet 12, 5767

Former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek, who died on Tuesday at 95, was one of the founders of the Israeli intelligence community, and the man responsible for the alliance and cooperation between the CIA and Israel, one of the pillars of Israel's alliance with the United States.

Kollek forged the connection between the CIA and Israel as a result of his time spent as a representative of the Haganah and the pre-state Jewish community of Palestine, and in his capacity as intelligence liaison to the British intelligence services during World War II.

In that role, Kollek met James Engleton, who was working during WWII in Italy as a high-ranking officer in the OSS, predecessor of the CIA. After the founding of the CIA, Engleton become one of the highest ranking officers in the organization, responsible for overseeing counter-espionage operations against Soviet intelligence.

The second founding incident took place when Kollek was a representative of the Haganah and worked in the U.S. in procuring materiel.

Networking from his hotel in New York City, Kollek established connections which allowed Israel to acquire weapons from the United States and Central America. Kollek and his partner in these operations, Eliyahu Saharov, were assisted in acquiring arms by trade union officials and heads of the Mafia.

Kollek later served as an Israeli policy representative in Washington, all the while strengthening the intelligence connections he had made during World War II. At the same time, Kollek began to work with the CIA and the Mossad, and was one of the founders of the formal arrangements between the two intelligence operations, which was put into effect by Kollek's friend Reuven Shiloach in 1951.

Even when he was not serving as an official intelligence or diplomatic envoy, Kollek continued to work to strengthen intelligence ties between the U.S. and Israel, and the connections he made with Engleton.

Kollek stated in an interview that Israel's contribution to the strengthening of of these ties was based on the sharing of intelligence acquired by Israel from new immigrants who arrived to Israel from the Soviet Union and other satellite countries affiliated with the USSR.

The biggest intelligence coup these operations yielded was the speech given by then-head of the Politburo Nikita Khruschev during the 20th meeting of the Communist Party in February 1956, where Khruschev leveled harsh criticisms of the crimes carried out by Stalin during his reign.

The speech was exposed by Polish journalist Victor Grayevsky, who turned the information over to then Shin Bet Chief Amos Manor. Teddy Kollek and David Ben-Gurion decided to pass the content of the speech to the CIA, which had gone to great lengths to acquire it.