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One hundred years ago, a plot was hatched.

Dan Klein
March 06, 2012

The truth must be known.

In 1896, Dr. Jacques Joseph invented what Melvin Konner described in Nextbook Press’ The Jewish Body as the “first modern rhinoplasty.” Until now, it was believed that this German son of a rabbi had pioneered cosmetic plastic surgery for solely altruistic reasons, believing that changing a person’s appearance could have a positive effect on their personality and perception of the world.

I can now reveal that Jacques Joseph was, in fact, one of the very first international members of Mossad’s predecessor, Nili.

His secret mission: to tempt Egyptian politicians 100 years later with a cosmetic medical procedure. His work has borne fruit. In the very first scandal of the new Egyptian parliament, Anwar el-Balkimy, a member of the ultraconservative Salafi party, Al Nour, is being drummed out for lying about getting a nose job. The Times has the punch line:

“We have always known that an individual could stick his nose in the people’s affairs,” one blogger wrote, in a summation printed in Al Masry Al Youm, an independent daily newspaper. “This is the first time the people stick themselves in an individual’s nose, by which I mean, Balkimy’s.”