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February 29, 2008

Avoiding Another Arafat AIDS report

Another assertion that Yasser Arafat died of AIDS has appeared. As with previous indications, mainstream American news media have not followed up.

According National Review magazine’s “The Week” column (February 25), “Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, who looked after the master terrorist’s health for 18 years -- has been telling a Jordanian news agency that Arafat had AIDS.”

Arafat died in a Paris military hospital in 2004. French officials conducted a post mortem, but results were kept secret. Palestinian sources alleged that Israel, having confined the Palestinian Authority president to his damaged Ramallah compound during the second intifada, poisoned Arafat, then allowed him to seek treatment abroad.

Arafat’s death occasioned voluminous coverage, much of it treating lightly his decades as a terrorist leader responsible for the deaths of thousands in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and beyond. Some reporting, for example “Bias By Omission: Washington Post Coverage of Yasser Arafat’s Death,” CAMERA’s Media Report, Spring, 2005, also repeated claims of Israeli responsibility while avoiding speculation that Arafat’s symptoms mirrored those of AIDS.

In July, 2007, Ahmed Jibril, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, said he’d been told by staff members of Mahmoud Abbas that Arafat died of AIDS (SNAPSHOT, “PFLP-GC Leader: Arafat Died of AIDS,” July 12, 2007). The PFLP-GC belongs to the Palestine Liberation Organization, the terrorist umbrella group chaired by Arafat. Abbas was Arafat’s long-time assistant and is his successor as PA president and PLO chairman.

When al-Kurdi “repeated his diagnosis on al-Jazeera television, he was instantly cut off,” National Review reported. “But what else is new? In Arafat’s lifetime it was easy to guess his condition from his appearance. His permanent entourage of young boys, most of them orphans, also spoke for itself. The doctor’s accusation that somehow Israel managed to poison him is the usual attempt to pass responsibility for everything on to the Jews.”

And media disinterest in the story may reflect the usual reluctance to report news showing Palestinian leaders in a less-than-favorable light.


Posted by ER at February 29, 2008 03:09 PM

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