The Battle Over Arafat's Legacy

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The revelation of Yasser Arafat’s death by radioactive poisoning is yet another attempt to give the Palestinian leader a heroic death, writes Alex Fishman, even though it may have not been one. 

Fatah’s Old Guard — especially Arafat’s family — has one major mission: to arrange a respectable death for the Father of the Palestinian Nation. The facts are that Arafat left the stage when he was sick with an illness no one talks about and that he died in a French hospital, far from his nation. All this does not sit well with the national Palestinian ethos. And to add insult to injury, widow Suha publically blamed the PLO’s highest echelons for her husband’s death. Worst of all, she successfully blackmailed them for a huge sum of hush money.

No doubt it would be far more respectable to organize a hero’s death for the Father as Shahid, preferably at the hands of the Israeli Mossad or its General Security Services (Shin Bet). And in fact, almost every year another conspiracy theory emerges, pitting Israeli espionage against Arafat. This time they are talking about lethal, radioactive poison that Mossad agents supposedly planted on the Rais’ famous fur hat and on other items in his nearby vicinity.

The truth about the circumstances of Arafat’s death are still hidden in the medical records held tightly by widow Suha, who refuses to reveal their contents to this very day. The French hospital has never released the records for publication, due to the widow’s opposition. Suha Arafat knows the truth, and apparently she does not feel comfortable with it.

The Palestinian Authority, PLO and Fatah have announced, over the course of the years, the establishment of at least three commissions of inquiry to investigate the circumstances of Arafat’s death. Yet, not one of these commissions ever published any conclusions or reported getting access to the Rais’medical records from the widow. On the other hand, Ahmad Jibril — head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Arafat’s adversary--announced that he heard from the PLO top brass with his own ears that Arafat died of AIDS. Even the intelligence sources in Israel assumed that he died of AIDS or another infectious disease that caused all his bodily systems to collapse.

Israel actually liked the version that they were the ones to fell Arafat with their all-powerful, omnipotent espionage network. That’s why they played along with seemingly meaningful winks and smiles, as if they really knew what happened to the Rais’ body. This is the place to note that prior to his death, Arafat was viewed by Israel’s defense establishment as a first-rate public-relations asset: He was unstable, shattered, confused, isolated in the Mukata’a [administrative and offices compound of the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah] and malfunctioning. At that stage, Israel had no interest in eliminating him.

And now Al-Jazeera  has popped up with some investigation about radioactive material that eliminated Arafat. The report does not explain where those contaminated radioactive articles of clothing have been stashed away for the past seven years, after they were separated from their owner. Perhaps the radioactivity mystery will be solved once the investigative reporters figure out where those contaminated items were held, before they reached the Swiss laboratory.

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Found in: targeted killings, palestinian intelligence, ethos, aids, poisoning, radioactive, death, homosexuality, suha arafat, palestinian, palestine, israel, arafat, al jazeera
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