Yasser Arafat’s tomb has been opened, samples taken from his body by a Palestinian medical team, and placed in the hands of “forensic experts” from several countries.
Arafat’s porcine widow Suha claims that she found traces of radioactive polonium 232 on clothes that she had kept since his death in 2004, although the hypothesis that he was poisoned by polonium is physically impossible (see also here).
Even if it wasn’t polonium, many Palestinians are convinced that he was poisoned. Here is an example of their reasoning:
Dr. Bashir Abdullah, a physician on the Palestinian team of investigators, said Tuesday that Arafat’s death “cannot be explained in the framework of disease, and therefore our explanation is that there must have been poisonous material.”
Now that is what I call a scientific diagnosis! I wonder what his ‘investigation’ will reveal? Especially since the samples were taken by Palestinians.
Of course Arafat was in terrible shape at 75, had been badly injured in a plane crash some years before from which he had not fully recovered, and had incompetent doctors (the Dr. Abdullah quoted above is an example). It’s not at all surprising that he died when he did.
Naturally they want to blame Israel. But no one has come up with a good explanation of why Israel, which could have killed Arafat in the years when he was relevant, would wait until he was 75 and ailing to do so. Barry Rubin writes,
…there was a clear Israeli decision not to kill Arafat taken in the 1970s. A much-seen photo of Arafat taken through the scope of an Israeli sniper rifle in southern Lebanon was circulated following Arafat’s 1982 evacuation from Beirut. If Israel had wanted to kill Arafat it had numerous opportunities to do so when it mattered, not at the end of his career when he was largely discredited.
Incidentally, the Israelis-poisoned-him theme has been used repeatedly in the case of others whose death obviously had other causes. The Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini and the publishing mogul Robert Maxwell immediately come to mind. This kind of thing is merely a modern-day version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Rubin goes on to discuss why this kind of no-evidence libel against Israel spreads so readily:
A fair-minded observer might start thinking: something different is going on here, some hidden agenda or psychological factor that impels Israel and the Jews being put into a special category with negative implications in today’s world. As it once was for so many centuries.
It is business as usual for Arab media to find murderous conspiracies that can be blamed on Jews or Israel. What I find surprising is the degree to which the mainstream Western media take this absolute rubbish seriously.
For example, an AP news article by Karin Laub quotes Suha Arafat, numerous Palestinian officials, doctors, etc. all suggesting that the Original Terrorist was poisoned (there is one short quotation from an Israeli saying that Israel had no reason to kill him at that point). But most importantly, there is no indication that many observers — including some who are not at all friendly to Israel — think that the conspiracy theory is simply insane. The takeaway from this article could be described as “hmm, maybe there’s something to this.”
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Suha Arafat and wrote a similar article, also with a one-line denial by an Israeli spokesperson. This article is a bit better than Laub’s, because it presents some of the reasons that the polonium theory is unlikely to be true. But again, the impression it leaves is that the jury is still out on whether Arafat was poisoned (and if he was, no possible suspects beyond Israel are discussed).
Neither Laub nor Amanpour give anything but a passing mention to Arafat’s remarkable history of murder and terrorism, although both refer to his Nobel Prize.
A Google News search shows similar ‘reporting’ from numerous sources.
This has all of the signs of a Pallywood production. The independent investigators, working with samples of the terrorist’s flesh provided by Palestinians, will — shockingly — find evidence of poison!
And you can bet that Karin Laub and Christiane Amanpour will be on the scene to speculate about who killed the great leader of the Palestinian people.