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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776
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Digging Up Arafat

For many months before he was rushed to Paris for medical attention, everyone who followed him closely knew Arafat was sick.


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The Widow Arafat

The Widow Arafat



Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Suddenly, I received all of these phone calls from journalists asking me to talk about who murdered the late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. The news peg is that he’s being dug up to see if someone poisoned him. Guess who?

I tell them that in a sense Arafat was murdered. Excited, they ask who did it. And I respond: Fatah, the PLO, and the Palestinian Authority, all organizations that Arafat headed. I don’t mean literally that they set out to kill Arafat but they were the ones really responsible for his death. Let me elucidate.

For many months before he was rushed to Paris for medical attention, everyone who followed him closely knew Arafat was sick. It was the subject of extensive discussion among Israelis and Palestinians. Anyone who saw him give a speech, whether live or on television, could see he was in bad shape. My mother-in-law, a doctor, saw him in one broadcast and easily rattled off a list of symptoms.

I was told the following story–in far more detail–not long after by a very reliable person who witnessed the conversation. One of Arafat’s Palestinian doctors and a leading Israeli physician were chatting at a conference. An Israeli reporter noted for his left-wing ideology and remarkably inaccurate story came up to the Palestinian and asked if Arafat was ill. “Definitely not,” he told the reporter who, well-pleased, rushed off to write up his scoop. The Israeli turned to the Palestinian and said, “But ____, you know he’s very ill.” The Palestinian medico responded, “Of course!”

Yet despite this fact, Arafat did not receive serious or competent treatment. It was no secret that the individuals who served as his medical staff were not very good doctors but chosen for political reasons. The biggest problem, however, was that the Palestinian leadership could not face the crisis honestly.

Remember, Arafat was their leader for as long as they could remember. He was well-known for making every decision, even the most minor, for the movement and for the institutions then governing the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians in the know frequently pointed out that when Arafat was travelling literally nothing could get done.

So how could they face or admit the potential demise of the man on whom their fortunes and indeed the entire movement seemed to rest? Dictatorial movements or countries are like that. The courtiers all live in fear that the fearless leader will be no more. What will become of them?

And so if they had taken better care of Arafat he would have lasted longer. Of course, Arafat was never known for being solicitous of his own help. He was overweight, ate unhealthy food (honey was his cure-all), and didn’t exercise. The mere thought of Arafat trying to jog makes the last point effectively. He had been severely injured in a plane crash several years earlier.

Arafat himself refused to rest or to leave his headquarters despite its being under siege by Israel after all the terrorism he had ordered during his post-Camp David summit war against the peace process. It was not hard to see that this 75-year-old man was a mortality waiting to happen.

Just as Arafat’s cronies and lieutenants could not face his sickness, a good portion of the Western leftist, media, and intelligentsia refuses to face their own sickness. Only against the Jews would the modern-day version of ritual murder become credible, especially when it is based on a ridiculously obvious fabrication.

The current Arafat-was-murdered meme began when very large amounts of radioactive material were “discovered” on his clothing. This substance is scientifically known to break down on a very regular schedule. For such a quantity to be found there would have meant there would have been a gigantic amount—was he hosed down with radioactive poison?—when he died eight years ago. In other words, the stuff had been planted only hours at most before it was found, no doubt by the same people who put it there. In short, the accusation makes no sense but it is being treated seriously.

Such is the way Israel is dealt with on many things by respectable people in the West. The accusation is made by anti-Israel propagandists who spew out the most vicious antisemitic hatred and lies yet are given a large measure of credibility. Such is the way Israel is dealt with on many things by otherwise respectable people in the West nowadays.

Barry Rubin

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


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