The Mossad, which translates to "the Institute" (short for "The institute for intelligence and special operations"), is the best-known Israeli intelligence agency. It is descended from the intelligence arm of the Haganah, the militia of the Jewish community (the Yishuv) and its loose quasi-state (led by the Jewish Agency for Palestine) that existed during the last days of the British Mandate of Palestine before official independence. During World War II it acted as an ally of British Intelligence as well as performing operations of its own, such as spying on Arabs, refugee smuggling and the occasional "removal" of notorious Nazis. During the ArabIsraeli Conflict Mossad helped provide Israel's security, but engaged in some controversial acts, including assassinations. While these were targeted against enemies, at least one of the victims was an innocent waiter - which shows you the inherent limitations of being a Vigilante Man.
Mossad has conducted some of the most well known espionage operations in the second half of the twentieth century. One of the most famous was the hunting down and abduction of Adolf Eichmann, one of the most wanted of Nazi war criminals. Like any good spy agency, Mossad's reputation is perhaps greater than its actual prowess, and this leads us to its failures of which there are many. Generally, it is considered very capable in covert operations, but not especially good when it comes to intelligence analysis. Among others, it missed the 1973 war, despite not really needing to predict it, since the Egyptians had stated they wanted to go to war, and King Hussein of Jordan told Israel of the impending war, his source being the fact that the Egyptians had asked him to join. It's consistently misread the strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Arab Spring. Indeed, many of its successes have come in the realm of capers and failure in the field of reading and assessing trends. This is probably because of its origin as a militant group. The KGB notably had a similar problem, for the same reason.
Appearances of the Mossad in fiction:
- Appears in a few storylines in Golgo 13, one of which actually featured Moshe Dayan.
- Yitzhak, The Rabbi's son in Lucky Number Slevin has a pair of ex-Mossad bodyguards.
- The Man in the Glass Booth
- Operation Finale dramatizes the abduction and extraction of Adolf Eichmann.
- Sword of Gideon
- The Debt
- Walk on Water
- Gisele in The Fast and the Furious movies 4, 5, and 6 is a former Mossad agent.
- The Soldier
- Special Agent Ziva David from NCIS was originally a Mossad liaison officer, and her father was its ruthless director until he was assassinated.
- Mikel Dayan of Leverage is a Dark Action Girl and Cold Sniper who is also a former Mossad agent. She's now a mercenary who sells her services to various criminal organizations.
- 30 Rock: Jack's German language teacher ended up kidnapped by Israeli commandos.
- Eyal Levin of Covert Affairs is a contact and semi-lover of the heroine, usually an ally but occasionally a Worthy Opponent depending on the vagaries of the spy game.
- A female Mossad operative appears in Strike Back. Yes, she has sex with Damien Scott.
- In the Mathew Reiley book series beginning with Seven Ancient Wonders, the sniper of the team is a Mossad agent.
- Books like By Way of Deception, Every Spy a Prince and Israel's Secret Wars.
- Gabriel Allon in the books by Daniel Silva, is an ex-Mossad assassin turn art restorer.
- In Stephen King's novella Apt Pupil, when Dussander is discovered, Dick Bowden is worried about the police and the Israeli agent speaking to Todd as he thinks that the Israeli agent is part of the Mossad and he's "heard stories about those guys' tactics". The Israeli agent isn't Mossad, however.