Arafat rises from the dead, again

The Arafats, Suha and Yasser.

The Arafats, Suha and Yasser.

Earlier this year, Yasser Arafat’s body was exhumed after his widow, Suha, claimed that she had evidence that he had been poisoned. She produced some personal items that he had used shortly before his death, and brought them to Al Jazeera, which hired a Swiss laboratory to look for traces of poison. They claimed to find traces of radioactive Polonium 210. So tissue samples were taken from Arafat’s body and sent for analysis to the original lab and two others.

The Swiss have released a report that their study ‘reasonably supports’ the theory that Arafat was poisoned with Polonium 210. A Russian lab reported that it did not find any Polonium in the samples, and then retracted its statement. And a French lab has yet to report.

Naturally, Israel is the prime suspect. But there are so many problems! For one thing, Israel had no reason to kill Arafat at that point. He was trapped in his muqata in Ramallah and not likely to last very long in any case. And if Israel had decided to poison him, why would they use Polonium, which is hard to get, dangerous to administer, and so radioactive that it would easily be detectable? There are much better poisons.

Then there’s the difficulty of  detecting Polonium. Polonium has a half-life of 138 days. This means that unless enough had been fed to Arafat to make him shine with a blue glow of radiation, the amount that would be left in his body after 8 years would be extremely hard to detect today. Don’t take my word for it, read this article by a physicist.

And we mustn’t forget that the tissue samples were taken from Arafat’s exhumed body by Palestinian doctors. Hmm — is there a chain of custody issue here? Do you think the same folks who brought us Mohammad al Dura would stoop at salting the samples a bit?

And what about Suha’s ‘discovery’ that the underwear, headscarves and toothbrush that she had lovingly preserved for 8 years had traces of Polonium in them? If even one nanogram of Polonium — that’s 0.000000001 gram — was left in Arafat’s boxers, then they would have contained 0.002 grams 8 years previously. That’s as radioactive as 10 grams — a huge amount — of radium! That underwear would have been deadly. And yet Suha kept it around the house.

So, although most of the media will tell you that it has been ‘proven’ that Arafat was poisoned with Polonium and that Israel did it, the chances of this being true are very, very small.

But nowadays, facts have little to do with what people believe. And they will believe this really stupid, clumsy lie.

Having said that, Arafat was responsible for the deaths of literally thousands of Israelis and countless Arabs, several wars, and arguably was responsible for making reconciliation and peace between Israel and the Arabs impossible. Israel should have killed him, many years ago. He should have been hanged like the vicious war criminal that he was, for crimes against humanity.

Just like Hitler, Arafat’s legend animates haters everywhere. His body rots, but his evil lives.

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