Where the culture of mendacity reigns, trustworthy accords cannot grow. That’s why the latest twist in the “Arafat assassination” tale matters.
Deceased PLO chairman Yasser Arafat Photo: REUTERS
As Gaza – purportedly part of the Palestinian totality – was embroiled in fiery
conflict, its Ramallah twin engaged in surreal hijinks. Yasser Arafat’s
mausoleum reverberated with the din of jackhammers as workmen toiled to pry open
their deceased leader’s concrete- encased grave and exhume his
Why? This is another feature of the multifaceted war against
Israel. The aim here is to accuse Israel of having assassinated Arafat in 2004
with radioactive poison.
Hot on the heels of Arafat’s demise, conspiracy
theories abounded wildly throughout the Arab realm. The only scenario serially
discounted was that the 75-year-old Arafat died by natural causes.
years haven’t mitigated the suspicions/fabrications.
a frenzied crescendo earlier this year when Al Jazeera reported that tests at a
Swiss lab conducted on Arafat’s ostensibly uncontaminated personal items –
clothing and a toothbrush supplied by his wife Suha – had yielded indications of
elevated traces of radioactive polonium-210.
This, it needs be noted, is
the substance used six years ago to eliminate Russian spy-turned-dissident
Alexander Litvinenko in London.
So suggestive was the Litvinenko
connection, that Suha 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.” Since the Lausanne lab stressed
that nothing can be said for certain without exhuming Arafat’s body, agitation
was mounted for the exhumation.
French, Swiss and Russian experts will
take samples from the corpse on Tuesday to test them for radioactive residues. A
full military reburial will ensue with all the attendant international
The participation of the Russians is particularly ironic
considering rife speculation that Russia perpetrated the unique Litvinenko
assassination. He was a former officer of the FSB (Russia’s Federal Security
Service) and prior to that of the KGB. Litvinenko fled to the UK from
prosecution in Russia, was granted political asylum and was thereafter reported
to have been in cahoots with MI6 and MI5.
Given this background, the
Russians should indeed boast special expertise in the arts of radioactive
The French are involved because Arafat died at a French
military hospital, which, however, adamantly refused to divulge the cause of
death. That said, after the Swiss furor, hospital spokespeople did go on record
as saying that Arafat’s symptoms didn’t resemble those of radioactive
involvement. That didn’t prevent the French authorities from launching an
official murder investigation last August after the Lausanne lab
Can we really rely on an impartial forensic investigation
now? Too much political capital appears to have been invested in this affair to
instill much confidence that everything will be strictly on the up and up. This,
moreover, is without even going into the issue of whether all evidentiary
material is in fact untainted.
This entire eerie episode is a sad
testament to what preoccupies the Palestinian Authority which is concurrently
seeking UN General Assembly recognition as a state. Such skewed scales of
priorities hardly befit a serious bona fide member of the international
The peddling of preposterous slander hardly augurs
Apparently 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.
The initial PA version of events was that
Israeli agents clandestinely substituted toxins for medications Arafat was
taking. Nothing was said about radioactivity. These lethal Israeli concoctions
were, according to Ramallah’s officially sanctioned account, deliberately brewed
especially for this purpose by a leading (unnamed) Israeli pharmaceutical
Herein lies the trouble. Assorted canards achieve the status of
outright gospel. 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 actual problems, but fantastic convolutions
of trumped up cloak and dagger stories don’t bolster the cause of genuine peace.
Falsehoods negate peace.
Where the culture of mendacity reigns,
trustworthy accords cannot grow. That’s why the latest twist in the “Arafat
assassination” tale matters.