Was Topol a secret Mossad agent?

Family of the Fiddler on the Roof star claim he was involved in secret missions all over the world


Israeli actor Chaim Topol, 1967. (Photo by Larry Ellis/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Israeli actor Chaim Topol, who gained international fame on the stage and cinema for his role in “Fiddler on the Roof,” allegedly led a double life as a secret agent for Mossad, according to revelations made by his family.  

Topol, who was 87 years old when he passed away last month, was best known for his depiction of the central character in Shalom Aleichem’s musical, and then later in the 1971 film adaptation. 

But his fame and acting were often a cover according to his wife Galia and children Adi and Omer, who revealed details of his secret role as a spy in an interview with Haaretz. 

Omer told the publication: “I don’t know exactly what the appropriate definition is for the missions and duties he performed. 

"But what is clear is that Dad was involved in secret missions on behalf of the Mossad.” 

According to his family the actor, who played Tevye, had a small Minox camera and a tiny spool tape recorder which he would take on secretive trips abroad. 

Galia said: “What always motivated Chaimkeh [Topol] were ants in his pants, adventure and courage.  

“Therefore, no one was more suitable than him to be involved even in issues that are not discussed.” 

According to the family, much of Topol’s spy work was carried out when he moved to London in the 1970s.  

His son said it was during this time that he would make regular visits to the Israeli embassy where he would meet with his handler and good friend, Mossad officer Peter Zvi Malkin.  

The family said Malkin, who was part of a group of spies who kidnapped Nazi Adolf Eichmann from Argentina and brought him back to Israel for trial, would visit their home by sneaking in through the back garden. 

Malkin used his relationship with Topol to establish a special unit that spied on airlines, travel agencies, airports and embassies of enemy countries. 

Galia said Topol “was a kind of cover for Tzvika’s [Malkin] operations. He would come to London and live with us when he needed to.” 

Adi added: “Father would help Zvika with all kinds of things he wanted to check — such as an access point, recording programs and security arrangements.” 

According to the family, the pair worked together by creating a diversion so that Malkin could execute his mission. They said one such mission involved bugging an Arab country’s embassy in a European city.  

Topol and Malkin allegedly rented an apartment next door to the embassy, in order to drill holes in the shared wall and insert listening devices. 

The mission was a success thanks to Topol’s acting skills. The apartment was dressed as dental clinic and when embassy security came to check on the noise, Topol lay down on the dentist’s chair while Malkin pretended to perform a treatment.  

The cover provided by being an international star meant he was able to travel to countries where Israel had no local presence including China and the Soviet Union.  

According to his family it was in London where he came to know Zvi Zamir,who was IDF attaché to the embassy there and later became the head of Mossad. 

According to Topol’s son, the day before the Yom Kippur war broke out, Zamir arrived at the family home with information that “War will break out tomorrow.” 

Mossad had recruited Dr. Ashraf Marwan, son-in-law of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser. It was Marwan who ended up warning Israel about the attack that sparked the Yom Kippur War in October 1973. 

Following the war, Topol joined the IDF spokesperson’s unit where he worked to build relationships with foreign journalists covering peace talks between Israel and Egypt. 

During this time he came to know Egyptian generals and other top security figures and when the First Lebanon War began in 1982 he was sent to Beirut. 

His mission was to meet with foreign agents and journalists and gather information on missing soldiers. 

Attorney Uri Slonim, who acted as the government’s representative when Israeli soldiers went missing during the Lebanon war, said: “The goal was to get good information about our captives and missing persons.  

“It was usually in countries with which we had no ties. We tried to get information from every possible source,” which included Syrian and Iranian officials. 

Slonim said that due to his international fame Topol had built up connections with European antique dealers, who would also trade with Syrian government and army officials. 

Topol appeared in more than 30 films in Israel and the United States, including a role in the 1981 James Bond installment “For Your Eyes Only.” 

He won a Golden Globe for the portrayal of Tevye and was nominated for an Academy Award in the best actor category for the role. 

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