Juval (or Yuval) Aviv (born February 24, 1947) is an Israeli-American writer and security consultant. He may be best known for his claim that he is the source of the 1984 book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team by George Jonas, on which Steven Spielberg's 2005 film Munich was based.[1] He has claimed to have worked for Mossad but there has been some debate as to whether or not this is the case. He is currently the president of Interfor, a corporate investigations firm in New York.[2]

Early life[edit | edit source]

According to Israeli journalist Yossi Melman writing in Ha'aretz, Aviv was born in kibbutz Kfar Menachem in 1947 as Yuval Aviof.[1] The Australian Herald Sun, reporting on a case involving Aviv's investigation of Conrad Black, cited "An Interfor brochure lodged with the court describ[ing] Mr Aviv as a retired major in Israel's Defence Force who had participated in Mossad secret service operations in many countries."[3]

Career[edit | edit source]

Aviv is president and CEO of Interfor, an international investigative and intelligence firm according to the ABA Banking Journal.[4] He has investigated cases such as the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 for clients US Aviation and Pan American World Airways.[5]

As a counter terrorism expert, he has been used as a source by publications such as the New York Times[6] and by news networks Fox News Channel[7] and ABC News.[8]

Involvement in Vengeance[edit | edit source]

In 1981, Canadian writer George Jonas was approached by Collins Canada about meeting with Juval Aviv, a former Mossad officer who said that he had led Operation Wrath of God, an operation to assassinate the Palestinian terrorists who planned the 1972 Munich massacre, in which 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered.[9] In a joint deal, two Toronto-based publishing houses, Lester & Orpen Dennys and Collins Canada Ltd, commissioned him to write Aviv's story.[9]

Jonas told Maclean's that he spent two years and $30,000 of the publishers' money conducting research with Aviv in Europe and Israel.[10] The result, in 1984, was Jonas's Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, which depicted Aviv's character as "Avner".[11] According to Maclean's, which put together an 11-person investigative team to find out whether Aviv's story was true, the book generated $500,000 in advance foreign sales, as well as "worldwide debate in intelligence and publishing communities", and denial and skepticism in Israel.[10] Senior Israeli intelligence sources, including Zvi Zamir who headed Mossad (1968–74), told Yossi Melman that they do not know anyone named Yuval Aviof or Aviv.[1] Israeli and U.S. intelligence sources, including former CIA officers Vince Cannistraro and Larry Johnson, have described Aviv as a liar and con-artist who never worked for Mossad.[12]

However, American RadioWorks, the national documentary unit of American Public Media, looked into the allegations as well and noted several court documents including a memo from the FBI from 1982 and an informant agreement between Aviv and the US Justice Department, both of which refer to a past association with Israeli intelligence.[13]

The book The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks by Nicole Laporte, a reporter for Variety, references Aviv and his background in a section of the book which describes how Steven Spielberg vetted him during pre-production on the movie, Munich. Spielberg assembled a brain trust of researchers and through his connections at the White House and a Middle East diplomat determined that "His real name was Juval Aviv. Furthermore, Spielberg's brain trust discovered FBI files proving that he and his team were not fictitious."[14]

Jonas, Louise Dennys, and the president of Collins Canada, Nicholas Harris, told Maclean's they are satisfied that the story is genuine.[10] Jonas told Maclean's: "To my mind, if he is not legit, then he can only be a disgruntled ex-employee of Mossad with sufficient knowledge of what has gone down in this area. As far as I am concerned, if he is not who he says he is, then that is what he is."[10]

In 1986, the book was turned into a made-for-television movie, Sword of Gideon, starring Steven Bauer and Michael York,[15] and in 2005, it formed the basis of Steven Spielberg's Munich.[16]

Interfor report on Lockerbie[edit | edit source]

Template:Details Aviv was employed by Pan Am in 1989 to investigate who had bombed Pan Am Flight 103. He says that he "got the information from the horse's mouth, from people who were involved directly and indirectly in the information" when investigating the bombing. In his report he claimed that US agents had been monitoring a heroin-smuggling route operating from the Middle East to the United States which was run by a Syrian criminal.

Aviv claimed that the Syrian had ties to Hizbollah terrorists who were holding Westerners hostages in Beirut. Aviv alleged that US agents agreed to allow the heroin smuggling continue in return for the Syrian helping to free the hostages. At some point Turkish extremists who worked at Frankfurt Airport as baggage handlers swapped a suitcase of heroin for a bomb. However, the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism examined the same allegations in 1989 and found "no foundation for speculation in press accounts that U.S. government officials had participated tacitly or otherwise in any supposed operation at Frankurt Airport having anything to do with the sabotage of Flight 103."[17]

After the Interfor report was released, Aviv was called "a fabricator who had lied about his entire background" by diplomatic and intelligence officials. Later, Aviv stated "I was never told directly that [my report] was wrong, I was always attacked as the messenger, as somebody who was a fabricator, a lunatic, whatever." American RadioWorks, the national documentary unit of American Public Media, looked into the allegations that Aviv had never been employed by the FBI or Mossad. They found that several documents existed, including a memo from the FBI from 1982 and an informant agreement between Aviv and the US Justice Department, which refer to a past association with Israeli intelligence.[18]

Works[edit | edit source]

  • (2003) The Complete Terrorism Survival Guide: How to Travel, Work and Live in Safety. Juris Publications, ISBN 1-57823-130-2
  • (2004) Staying Safe : The Complete Guide to Protecting Yourself, Your Family, and Your Business. Collins, ISBN 0-06-073520-1
  • (2006) Max, based on the death of British publisher Robert Maxwell ISBN 1-84413-875-5
  • (2008) Flight 103

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Yossi Melman. "Spielberg could be on the wrong track", Haaretz, July 6, 2005.
  2. Website of Interfor
  3. Wesley, Johnson. "Black `Hiding Millions'." Herald Sun (Melbourne) (n.d.): Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 2 Dec. 2011.
  4. "A Look Ahead At The ABA Banking Leaders Forum And Annual Convention." ABA Banking Journal 99.8 (2007): 15. Business Source Elite. Web. 2 Dec. 2011.
  5. Bryant, Adam; Meier, Barry (October 6, 1996). "Taking a Hard Line Amid The Wreckage". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1996/10/06/business/taking-a-hard-line-amid-the-wreckage.html?scp=7&sq=Juval%20Aviv&st=cse&pagewanted=2. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  6. Sharkey, Joe (November 7, 2001). "Business Travel; The nation's airline security system continues to come up short in its basic responsibility". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/07/business/business-travel-nation-s-airline-security-system-continues-come-up-short-its.html?scp=3&sq=Juval%20Aviv&st=cse. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  7. . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWpKBD3nLEU. 
  8. . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8ZLG7c4Aso. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 George Jonas. "The Spielberg Massacre", Macleans, January 7, 2006.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Robert Miller. "The 'Vengeance' Affair," Macleans, May 7, 1984.
  11. Description of Vengeance on Jonas's website.
  12. Thompson, Chris (16 October 2007). "Secret Agent Schmuck". The Village Voice (New York). http://www.villagevoice.com/2007-10-16/news/secret-agent-schmuck/full. Retrieved 19 April 2009. 
  13. "Shadow Over Lockerbie". http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/lockerbie/resources/story_aviv.html. 
  14. Laporte, Nicole. The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks. http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/catalog/titledetail.cfm?titleNumber=1048891&searchString=The%20Men%20Who%20Would%20Be%20King. 
  15. "Sword of Gideon", IMDb.
  16. Schickel, Richard, and Desa Philadelphia. "SPIELBERG TAKES ON TERROR. (Cover Story)." Time 166.24 (2005): 64-68. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Dec. 2011.
  17. Steven Emerson. "PanAm Scam", American Journalism Review, September 1992.
  18. "Shadow Over Lockerbie". http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/lockerbie/resources/story_aviv.html. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

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