Mossad 101

Mossad 101 is a show about a fictional training course for 13 Mossad agents from diverse backgrounds and origins. The series takes an irreverent look at the legendary establishment, at times bordering on parody. 

VIEWER'S GUIDE

Mossad 101 

Two seasons (2015-2016) | 13 40-minute episodes per season

Available on Netflix

Written by: Uri Levron and Izhar Harlev

Directed by: Daniel Syrkin

Grade Level: High School and up

Themes

  • Army and Society 
  • Does the end justify the means?
  • Individual and Team

Synopsis

Mossad 101 is about a fictional training course for Mossad agents that deals with the human side of agents and their personal experiences. It reveals practices for locating, sorting, and recruiting agents and introduces the moral difficulty of this kind of work. The unorthodox course starts with 13 trainees from diverse backgrounds and origins, including immigrants from Iran and Brazil, one who has MS, and the wife of an assassinated Mossad agent. The series takes an irreverent look at the legendary establishment, at times bordering on parody. 

The series revolves around a secret Mossad compound called Hamidrasha, which is surrounded by surveillance cameras and is equipped with technological devices. The compound operates a training course in which 13 trainees are sent on complicated missions in order to test their suitability for the occupation, and their improvisation, seduction, and impersonation abilities.

Yonna, the commander of the course, criticizes the mediocrity of Mossad's agents and demands from the new trainees a higher level of execution. He decides to create a new training program to test his trainees via unusual and radical situations, in which, apart from excellence, Yonna demands creative, “out of the box” thinking. (Source)

Watch the first and second episodes of the series. Many of the characters and themes are already present. We provide a few insights and explanations for this episode that some viewers might have missed, or want to know more about.

Synopsis of Episodes 1-2:

Mossad agent Yona Harari is recalled to Israel where he is tasked with the recruitment and training of the next batch of agents. He is assisted by his mentor Simon, and supervised by his ex-wife Avigail Lerman. All three have a mutual history, including Yona’s operational disaster in Bulgaria and a failed relationship between him and Avigail. The recruits are also full of secret agendas and hidden motives. 

The group of hopeful agents have to pass the first mission: They are set loose in Tel Aviv and have to make it by 8:00 AM to Mossad headquarters “somewhere in the center of Israel,” without getting captured by the police, who believe they are actual enemy agents. At the end of the exercise, those who fail are kicked out of the course. 

Does the End Justify the Means?

While there is an ongoing international debate whether spying and intelligence gathering is justified, there is another debate more relevant to Israel’s reality of imminent terror attacks and acts of war.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Is intelligence gathering a violation of civil rights? (i.e., listening in on phone calls, spying on citizens)

2. What are the moral and civil boundaries that intelligence professionals should never cross? 

3. When faced with a “ticking bomb” situation, is there a red line that should not be crossed or does the end justify the means?

4. Torture as an interrogation technique or as a punitive measure is (almost) universally deplored. Do you think torture is morally defensible in certain dire circumstances, or absolutely never?

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Individual and Team

The series toggles between focusing on each individual and their ability to work as a team. Some people prefer to work or learn individually and others in teams. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The key is finding the right tasks for each one. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. What are some activities or tasks that are better achieved as individuals? 

2. What are some activities or tasks that are better achieved if done as a team?

3. What is your personal preference?

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS

The Mossad

The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, better known simply as “the Mossad” (Heb. “the Institute״), is responsible for covert activities carried out abroad to preserve the security of the State of Israel and its citizens.

It collects Intelligence beyond Israel's borders; prevents Israel's enemies from developing and acquiring non-conventional weapons; prevents terrorists from attacking Israeli and Jewish targets abroad; develops clandestine political and other contacts abroad; brings Jews to Israel from locations where Israel's ordinary immigration institutions cannot operate; carries out special operations outside Israel's borders; supports and takes an active part in the operational and Intelligence challenges of the IDF and the security establishment; and produces operative and strategic Intelligence. The head of the Mossad answers directly to the Prime Minister.

Long shrouded in mystery and mythology, the Mossad is legendary in international intelligence circles for being behind what are believed to be some of the most daring covert operations of the past century. Only a few have come to light and often only years later. Israel is typically wary of exposing the exploits of the global arm of its vaunted intelligence community out of fear of revealing its well-cultivated sources or undermining its mystique.

Another agency mentioned in the series is ISA (Israel Security Agency) better known by the acronym Shabak (Sherut haBitaẖon haKlali) or Shin Bet. The Shabak is one of three principal organizations of the Israeli intelligence community, alongside Aman (military intelligence) and the Mossad. 

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