In a brilliantly titled – “Arafatuous” – and scathing commentary on Al Jazeera’s recent attempt to revive old conspiracy theories about Yassir Arafat’s death in late 2004, Hussein Ibish notes that the network’s sensationalist report prompted a predictable “orgy of conspiratorial theorizing.”
Here are a few glimpses of the orgy:
Let us remember that just a few months ago, MJ Rosenberg was a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at the progressive Media Matters Action Network (MMAN). He didn’t behave much more respectable back then. By now, he has “resigned” and apparently enjoys his new-found freedom to ignore even minimal professional or ethical constraints.
“Next, we should turn to speculation about who might have been able and willing to kill the Palestinian leader. There are many who fit some of those criteria but few that fit all. The Israelis leap out in that regard. Not only does Israel have a highly developed research capability in chemical and biological warfare, its scientists and intelligence services would have the technical abilities to mount such an attack. It also has the nuclear reactor in Dimona necessary to produce the poison. In fact, the Al Jazeera article notes that two Israeli nuclear technicians are rumored to have died from accidental polonium exposure. […]
Polonium, though rare, is used in some industrial processes. So it’s possible to secure such material. Once you have it, you only have to get access to the victim through poisoning his food or some other material that he might ingest. Israel would, of course, have any number of means to gain such access, as would some Palestinians, though the latter wouldn’t have the technical ability to make, secure, or administer polonium. Israel could have had a double agent within Arafat’s entourage or it could’ve introduced the poison without any Palestinian knowing what it had done.”
It turns out that Silverstein is a real expert when it comes to speculating about Arafat’s death: as documented on IsraellyCool, in November 2004 Silverstein opined that “Arafat died of AIDS”– but amusingly, Silverstein will now denounce anyone who thinks this is a plausible theory as “pro Israel scumbags.” In an apparent attempt to substantiate this new-found view, Silverstein links to a lengthy Electronic Intifada post by Ali Abunimah who rants about how “Israel’s PR hacks revive lies that Arafat was gay and died of AIDS.” Abunimah’s post is another amusing read, because he accuses “Israel’s PR hacks” of trying “to provoke homophobic [sic] reactions and marshal this homophobia to produce hostility and revulsion at Arafat, and to deligitmize [sic] him in the eyes of an Arab audience that is presumed to always be disgusted by such behavior.”
In the world of Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada, this is presumably a wrong presumption – instead, I guess, we should all presume that the vast majority of Arabs couldn’t care less whether or not Arafat was gay…
Of course, that makes it a bit strange that Ali Abunimah gets so upset about rumors that Arafat may have been gay and died of AIDS.
By contrast, Abunimah has apparently no problem with the kind of speculation Silverstein is peddling now – after distancing himself from “pro Israel scumbags” and giving up on his AIDS theory: