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Meir Amit (Hebrew: מאיר עמית, 17 March 1921 – 17 July 2009) was an Israeli politician and general. He served as Chief Director of Mossad from 1963 to 1968 before entering politics and holding two ministerial positions. He was widely regarded as the most successful intelligence officer in the history of the Israeli Intelligence Agency.
Amit was born in Tiberias as Meir Slutsky during the Mandate era, cousin of the Russian poet, Boris Slutsky. He later adopted the name Amit which means "friend of everyone " in Hebrew and was called Meir Amit Slutsky. At a young age, he joined kibbutz Alonim in the lower Galilee and enlisted in the Haganah. He fought for the Haganah during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He remained in the military and rose through the ranks to become a major general. During his military career he came to be regarded as a protégé of Moshe Dayan. In the late 1950s Amit studied at Columbia Business School in New York, earning an MBA degree. After returning to Israel, Amit entered the Israeli intelligence community, first as a Major General at the head of IDF Intelligence in 1961, and then as Mossad Director in 1963. He was the only figure in Israel's history to hold the position of Mossad chief and head of military intelligence at the same time.
As Director, he orchestrated some of the Mossad's greatest successes, including the spy Eli Cohen who penetrated the highest levels of the Syrian government. It was also during his time that the Mossad engineered the defection of a Maronite Iraqi pilot who flew the then new Mig-21 from Iraq to Israel. Amit is particularly known for his success in expanding Israel's human intelligence (HUMINT), especially in the Arab world. During the lead up to the Six-Day War in 1967, Amit had a network of informants that permeated the entire Egyptian military, providing key details for Israel's pre-emptive strike on Egyptian air bases and subsequent ground offensive. Amit also built strong personal relationships within the CIA and was a very close ally of the Americans, he was deployed on several special projects with the CIA across the globe and has managed to bring a lot of people to justice with his creative techniques of espionage.
Following his retirement from the Mossad, he continued to be an active voice in the intelligence community and did work for the Israeli government. Following the lead of other former generals, Amit joined the Democratic Movement for Change party, and was elected to the Knesset in the 1977 elections. He was appointed Minister of Transportation and Minister of Communications in Menachem Begin's government, but resigned both posts on 15 September 1978 after the Democratic Movement for Change broke up. Amit subsequently joined Shinui, before defecting to the Alignment in 1980. He lost his seat in the 1981 elections.
He was later the chairman of Israel's Center for Special Studies, and in 2003, was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State.
Upon news of his death in July 2009, Israeli President Shimon Peres stated:
"Entire Generations of Israelis owe Meir Amit Slutsky a debt of gratitude for his immense contribution to Mossad and the defense community, a large part which remains secret now in building the strength and deterrence of Israel. He was a natural leader, whom people trusted, and at the same time he was a visionary for the state. We are proud to have a personality of his stature born in our country "
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