Arafat’s death (JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL) 07/05/12)
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Some tall tales refuse to die. In the Arab Mideast they even grow –
often to gargantuan proportions, usually proportionate to their
This is the case with insinuations about the cause of Yasser Arafat’s
death eight years ago, at the age of 75. Conspiracy theories abound.
The only scenario serially discounted is natural causes.
The years haven’t mitigated the suspicions/fabrications.
Quite the contrary. Thus Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday that tests at
a Swiss lab conducted on Arafat’s purportedly uncontaminated personal
items, such as clothing and a toothbrush supplied by his widow, Suha,
yielded indications of elevated traces of radioactive Polonium 210.
This, it should be noted, is the substance used six years ago to
eliminate Russian spy-turned-dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London.
The Lausanne lab stressed that nothing can be said for certain
without exhuming Arafat’s body, but that is no impediment to
innuendo. The Palestinian Authority said it would agree to an
exhumation from the Ramallah mausoleum if Suha Arafat requests it.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Arafat, leading the accusing chorus, summed up the Al
Jazeera “documentary” by asserting that it has been firmly
established that her husband’s death was part of “a criminal scheme.”
These allegations are hardly new and surfaced hot on the heels of
Arafat’s demise at a French military hospital (which did not divulge
the cause of death). The appeal of conjuring nefarious plots
persisted and in 2009 became the stuff of intense challenges to
Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas.
That was when Fatah co-founder Farouk Kadumi – who brands the two-
state solution “just a temporary phase” – showed Al Jazeera TV what
he asserted were protocols of a three-way collusion by Abbas,
Arafat’s longtime sidekick Muhammad Dahlan and then-prime minister
Ariel Sharon to assassinate Arafat.
To cleanse himself and counter the politically loaded charges, Abbas
recruited Bassam Abu Sharif, Arafat’s consigliore, nicknamed
the “Face of Terror.” But Abu Sharif’s tack was hardly to deny the
calumny. He merely modified it to place the culpability more squarely
Tall tales of a plot to murder Arafat are too good to pass up in a
setting where fact and fiction are intrinsically indistinguishable.
Since no one would anyhow believe Arafat died a natural death, better
just blame all foul-play on Israel.
In that spirit and with Abbas’s unstinted backing, Abu Sharif claimed
he knew for a fact that Israeli agents substituted toxins for
medications Arafat was taking. Moreover, the lethal Israeli
concoctions were, according to Ramallah’s officially sanctioned
version of events, brewed especially for this purpose by a leading
Israeli pharmaceutical firm.
Nobody asked how Abu Sharif came to possess this information, whether
he can back it up or why he chose to divulge it so late. Instead, all
delegates to the 2009 Fatah convention in Bethlehem – without a
single skeptic among them – raised their hands in favor of a
resolution proclaiming that Israel is responsible for
The convention unanimously demanded an international inquiry into
Israel’s role in terminating the Nobel Peace laureate.
But such slander is not the exception. It is the Palestinian norm. In
a 1999 ceremony welcoming America’s then-first lady Hillary Clinton
to Gaza, Suha Arafat railed in indignation: “Our people have been
subjected to the daily and extensive use of poisonous gas by the
Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among
women and children.”
Mrs. Arafat charged that Israel deliberately contaminated with lethal
toxins 80 percent of the water (not 79% or 81%) consumed by
Palestinian females and infants (but presumably not by adult males).
Clinton uttered no objection.
Herein lies the trouble. The failure of the international community
to object gives assorted canards legitimacy.
Hence Arab masses are convinced that Israel was behind the 9/11
destruction of the Twin Towers.
Not only is invaluable energy expended on deception at the expense of
tackling real problems, but fantastic convolutions of trumped-up
cloak and dagger stories do not bolster the cause of true peace.
Falsehoods negate peace.
Where the culture of mendacity reigns, trustworthy accords cannot
grow. That is why the latest twist in the “Arafat assassination” tale
matters. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/05/12)
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