In 'The Spy', Mossad agent Eli Cohen moves to Argentina before heading off to Syria. The role he has to play is someone who has been brought up in Syria's Argentinian community.

Did he speak Spanish with an Argentinian accent? He was summoned to the mission at quite short notice so when would he have had time to study it so well?!

  • 1
    Nitpick, Eli plays the role of someone having grown up in Argentina's Syrian community, not Syria's Argentinian community (which would be Argentinians in Syria). Not sure if you misspoke or were mistaken.
    – Flater
    Dec 8, 2019 at 20:15
  • It doesn't make sense to me. Noone in the Syrian community in BA would have ever heard of the Taabets. How could that work?
    – Fred
    Jul 26, 2022 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


He didn't require a perfect accent. He was portraying a person that was raised in Lebanon and later moved to Argentina. Living a year in Argentina was sufficient time for Cohen to develop a convincing accent, and any imperfections would only reinforce the story of being born in Lebanon.

According to Jewish Virtual Library:

Intelligence created a completely new identity for him. Kamal Amin Ta'abet (also called Tabas in some sources) was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to Syrian Muslim parents. His father's name was Amin Ta'bet, and his mother's Sa'adia Ibrahim. According to his fictional biography, in 1948 "the family moved to Argentina, where they opened a successful textile business." Kamal Amin Ta'abet's (Eli Cohen) return to Syria would ostensibly be the fulfillment of a lifelong patriotic dream.

Eli Cohen was first sent to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to establish his cover as a Syrian emigre. He soon established himself in the social and cultural life of the Syrian community of Buenos Aires and was known as a wealthy businessman who was generous, tipped well, and loved the night life. He soon became accepted, well-liked and respected, and made contacts with politicians, diplomats and military officials working out of the Syrian Embassy. One of them was Colonel Amin al-Hafaz, a supporter of the secular-leftist Ba'ath party.

Cohen's contacts, nurtured through a string of lavish dinner parties, social occasions, and friendships with those in high places, led to invitations to visit Damascus and to set up a business venture there. He was promised support in any venture he might wish to undertake, and the generous sums of cash which he appeared to possess appealed to the unscrupulous who thought he could provide "grease" to their financial ambitions, as well as patriotic Syrians who hoped for an infusion of foreign capital into the Syrian state.

Nine months later, in late 1961, Eli came back to Israel for a visit with his wife Nadia. But he spent most of his time in Tel Aviv "perfecting his cover and being briefed on Aman's requirements of him in Syria, as well as last-minute intelligence data needed for his mission." Needless to say, his success in effectively penetrating the Syrian social and political/diplomatic/military strata already wildly exceeded Aman's expectations of him

Cohen arrived in Damascus in February 1962, posing as a businessman from Argentina who had returned to his native land.

  • Did he speak Spanish with an Argentinian accent?
    – user96544
    Jul 26, 2022 at 11:52

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