Arafat’s exhumation

Where the culture of mendacity reigns, trustworthy accords cannot grow. That’s why the latest twist in the “Arafat assassination” tale matters.

Yasser Arafat 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Yasser Arafat 311
(photo credit: 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 remains.
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.
The years haven’t mitigated the suspicions/fabrications.
Insinuations reached 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 publicity.
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 poisoning.
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 hullaballoo.
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 community.
The peddling of preposterous slander hardly augurs well.
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 firm.
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.