Exhuming Arafat

July 8, 2012 by Emily Gian
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When I came across some articles a few days ago about investigations into the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004, I knew our local media would take immediate interest in the story…writes Emily Gian.

Emily Gian

The story has all the makings of a thrilling tale. A deceased Palestinian leader, an alleged poisoning and calls by his poor* widow to exhume his body. (*naturally, I do not mean literally poor – Suha Arafat has been luxuriously living off her billions for years in Paris while her dear Palestinians festered away in their squalor under their corrupt and dishonest leaderships in Gaza and the West Bank respectively.)

When Yasser Arafat passed away in Paris in November 2004, the details of his illness were never released. His widow Suha was given a medical report, which she never released either. Conspiracy theories have abounded for years about Arafat’s true cause of death, with one of the stories being that he was bisexual and had died of AIDS. The Mossad and the Shin Bet were also popular choices, as well as rivals from his own Fatah party. 

Now, Al Jazeera has run a documentary which alleges that according to tests done on clothing provided by his wife, there were high levels of polonium-210 – the same substance found to have killed a Russian spy in 2006.

The Palestinian Authority, with the permission of Suha, now wants to exhume Arafat’s body from his resting place in Ramallah.

Arafat’s widow was interviewed about this issue on Al Jazeera and it makes for quite an interesting watch as she attempts to rewrite history and romanticise the leadership of one of the world’s most notorious terrorists. She also adds her own dash of anti-Semitism when she talks about the “Jewish-controlled media in the United States”.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw that the Age had only covered the story in a short “Around the Globe” piece yesterday – actually less surprising when you notice that such a short piece only allows them enough space to tell us the conspiracy theory without delving too far into the story. The Australian covered the story which a much larger article, seemingly going through all of the facts. Lyons also quotes a piece that appeared in Yediot Ahronot entitled ‘Rewriting the Arafat story’ by Alex Fishman. 

As Fishman opens “Fatah’s old guard, and especially Arafat’s family, has a great task: Arranging a dignified death for the father of the Palestinian nation. The fact that Arafat left the stage while afflicted with a disease that one does not speak about openly, far away from his people, at a French hospital, is incommensurate with the national ethos”. He continues, “there is no doubt that it’s much more dignified to arrange a heroic ‘martyr’s death’ for the father of the nation, preferably at the hands of Mossad or Shin Bet.”

This idea that the PA and their supporters need to create a ‘martyr’s death’ for Arafat leads me to an article that not surprisingly appeared in another ailing Fairfax publication, the Australian Financial Review. In a piece entitled ‘Yasser Arafat as controversial in death as in life’, the author Tony Walker, who has also penned a biography on Arafat, appears to be doing exactly that – searching desperately for a way for Arafat to become a martyr. He ends his fluff piece with the sentence, ‘history’s judgement will be harsh, but it would be leavened somewhat if it emerged he had suffered a martyr’s death’.

Walker, who wrote the obituary for Arafat that appeared in a number of publications, reminds me of the BBC journalist Barbara Plett, who admitted on air in 2004 that she “started to cry” when Arafat left the West Bank shortly before he died.

Walker claims that he “has no idea how Arafat died, no preconceived notions, no attachment to any particular conspiracy theory”  and then proceeds to go into many conspiracy theories, with very little to substantiate anything. But then, as a reader you would have caught on fairly early in his piece where his sympathies lie, particularly with this paragraph:

“Matters were not helped when Arafat’s widow Suha refused to release his body for further testing before it was buried in Ramallah – a place that registers in my mind because I was shot there by the Israeli army in 1993 while on assignment for the Sydney Morning Herald”. As political satirists The Chaser boys might say, not a seamless segue.

Arafat was responsible for the death of more Palestinians than anyone else in history. He was also responsible for the murder of many Jews and the deaths of Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese and other Arabs. His body will be exhumed and PA official Saeb Erekat wants an international investigation. 

I cannot imagine any investigation would actually be carried out with transparency, given all this talk of making a martyr out of Arafat.

In other news, the BDS campaign hit a few snags this week. There has been an aggressive campaign on social media urging American band the Red Hot Chili Peppers not to perform in Israel. The Chili Peppers have posted this video declaring their love for their Israeli fans and urging them to come to their concert on 10 September. And another legendary group, Guns N Roses, performed just a few days ago in Tel Aviv, playing a wonderful rendition of the Hatikvah before leading into one of their classics, “Don’t Cry”.

A similar campaign has been conducted by anti-Israel elements within the Presbyterian Church in the USA.  The largest Presbyterian group in the United States has narrowly defeated a proposal to divest from three companies that do business with Israel (see more).

Take that BDS!

Emily Gian is the Israel Advocacy Analyst at the Zionist Council of Victoria and a PhD Candidate in Israeli Literature at the University of Melbourne


12 Responses to “Exhuming Arafat”
  1. Matt says:

    ‘one of the stories being that he was bisexual and had died of AIDS’ – stay classy Emily

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      “one of the stories” is, for instance, the most reliable account of Arafat’s rampant homosexuality in the acclaimed book ” Red Horizons”written by the former Chief of Romania’s Secret Service, General Ion Pacepa, who defected to the United States in the late 1970. Stay informed, “Matt” !!

      • Ralph says:

        Jewish people are generally liberal. I’m confused. Are you saying outright attacks against homosexuals are OK as long as they are being used to defame arab enemies? Surely you must get to the point where you admit tests showed Arafat didn’t die of AIDS so therefore your slanders are false and being used maliciously. Are you using this to avoid the polonium evidence?

  2. Ralph says:

    Ask our “baloneyum” schmoozer how you can plant polonium in hair roots?

  3. Michael says:

    The Small SBS board includes Two / Muslim/ Arabs and Multiculturalism is all about the Muslim community who cares about the Jews ?

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      The answer: nobody as much as the same SBS./Al Jazeera.
      At least 14 times a week ( twice nightly ) Israel and the problems she creates is right there on SBS’s mind and TV screen. At least they are wasting public funds.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    What I hate most about speculating is that I cannot refrain from making them !!

    So, we can deduct a few possibilities:

    – A certain arm/wing/fang of the palestinian activism is preparing a ” cae” against another. It is customary among arab poltical creatures to atom split with ensuing merciless conflicts. Can an arab nation complete an existential round without vicious fratricide !!!

    – If the entire story belongs exclusively to Mrs. Arafat then it would not have received any support from any extensive palestinian sector. She has never passed a status beyond the nominal wife of a dedicated homosexual. A certain Romanian Gen. Pacepa has documented it amply in his famous book.
    So there must be a splinter palestinian group attempting to compromise some other.

    – A move to rescind the value of palestinian visceral combatant spirit in general by amplifying the aggressiveness of the palestinians. In this case the fingers would be pointed at Israel, the easiest target.

    – Hamas may come out accusing Fatah of neglecting the legacy of the “father of the nation” etc. Fatah, on the other hand , proving that they are respecting and honouring the memory-value of the quintessential palestinian.

    I could go on almost endlessly but affraid JWire will run out of paper or indulgence….

    Easiest for us to call it sordid, BUT consistent with everything the palestinians have accustemed us with.

  5. Ralph says:

    The high polonium level in Arafat’s toothbrush proves that the polonium could not have been planted. If the polonium had been planted the distribution level would be fairly even due to the decay rate of the planted polonium being constant. The fact there was a significant level shift in the toothbrush shows that the poison was first introduced orally and masticated, creating the higher level in the mouth and teeth. The high levels in the urine shows it would have to travel the digestive tract to get there. This is the exact forensic pathology you would expect to see in such a food poisoning case. And it is also one that denies any suggestion of planted polonium. This is a forensic snapshot of the freshest most concentrated levels of polonium first showing up in the mouth because the freshest most concentrated level of polonium was present in the poisoned food Arafat ate. The body then concentrated it in the urine. It’s a forensic bullseye and smoking gun proof.

  6. Lynne Newington says:

    Personally, I thought the timing was interesting, just day’s after UNESCO granting the request to declare the Church of the Nativity a heritage site.
    Some referring to a “political victory”.
    I’m glad it’s well docummented that Israel granted expeditiously, the request allowing the gravely ill president to travel to France for specialist treatment, or no doubt the blame would be laid at their feet.

  7. Roger says:

    There are many people who want to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the assassination of members of the Israeli Olympic team in 1972 at the Munich Olympics. However the IOC doesn’t seem to care to do this.

    My suggestion is that at the opening ceremony as the IOC chief starts speaking, people in the audience that want to, can stand and turn their backs to the stage for 1 minute. Similarly all of us around the world watching on TV can mute the sound and do the same. The knowledge that a concerted program to do this is happening, might sway the IOC to have an official minute of silence.

    When a number of people stand in the audience there might be a groundswell and many more might follow?

    I would be interested to hear comments and suggestions about this before trying to further publicize it.

  8. Rita says:

    The usual breathtakingly moronic vulgarity from that side, because even the many billions, stolen from the Palestinians on which the Arafat widow now sits cannot buy class. I still think that the most plausible “cause of death” of this egyptian arab terrorist would have been AIDS and that after his demise at least a few little boys could sleep more easily. (If their early childhood training for jihad affords thEm this luxury.)

    But, should someone have bumped off this nasty mass murderer I would heap praise on them.

    As this story was released by Al Jazeera, yes? Which reminds me to ask the question: why do our tax-payer funded broadcasters, ABC and SBS take Al Jazeera so often as a trusted news source rather than a propaganda arm for Qatar?

    When those little jewish children and their father were murdered in Toulouse (France) in their school, the arab-muslim killer, Mohamed Merah, filmed the unspeakable murders of those little victims. The film was then sent to Al Jazeera – who, only on the insistance of the then French President decided FINALLY not to publish it.

    I just hate my tax dollar to pay for this kind of islamic propagandist news services from Qatar.

  9. tallo says:

    Apparently it was wrong translation as Arafat had died not from polonium but from baloneyum.

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