Why the mystery over the cause of Yasir Arafat‘s death (Secrecy by Aides and Silence by Doctors Persists, and What Killed Arafat Is Still a Mystery)? It’s rather silly actually. A woman, his reputed wife who has not even seen him for three years, controls every piece of information about the leader’s health and refuses to let anyone including his Palestinian countrymen know a thing about it. The French don’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole.
So what’s going on? Well, take a look at this interesting theory from the New York Times:
There are various possibilities about why Mr. Arafat’s inner circle would want to keep the cause of his death a secret. Perhaps he suffered from a disease that they considered embarrassing. Or perhaps the doctors who treated him during the early phases of his illness in Ramallah missed a treatable condition, letting him deteriorate to the point where it was too late to cure him once he had been moved to Paris.
So here’s my totally unsubstantiated conjecture based on what I’ve read: Arafat died of AIDS.
Arafat boards a Jordanian helicopter en route to Paris (credit: Enric Marti/AP)
Think about the sham marriage to a much younger woman. Think about her living much of their marriage apart from him in the lap of European luxury. Think about this seemingly asexual man wedded to no one but his country. Think about the terrible opprobrium attached to homosexuality within Arab society. I know next to nothing firsthand about what it means to live one’s life as a closeted homosexual. But still I’d have to say that Yasir Arafat is a classic candidate for this status. While Arafat’s wasted appearance in the pictures of him boarding the French military helicopter as he left for France could be the way any dying man might look, I was reminded of the “wasting” nature of AIDS on the human body.
I’m sorry for the possibility that this post will appear ghoulish to some. But I, for one, believe that candor in these cases is better for everyone: the victim, the family and the loved ones (who, in this case, constitute the entire Palestinian people). The Palestinians have just appointed a group to travel again to France to learn more about Arafat’s death (Palestinian Inquiry Probes Arafat’s Death). Eventually, the truth will be known, hopefully sooner rather than later. Let’s wait to see whether I’m way off base or right on target.
Thanks to Katherine Falk, who points out the following story from news.com.au, an Australian news site: Cirrhosis of the liver killed Arafat.
Cirrhosis of the liver ‘killed Arafat’
November 19, 2004
PALESTINIAN leader Yasser Arafat died of cirrhosis of the liver, but French doctors were loath to say so because of a common public belief that the disease is the result of alcoholism, reports indicated yesterday.
Doctors described Mr Arafat as “a true water drinker” and not an alcoholic, according to the paper, Le Canard Enchaine. The weekly is well known for political satire and accurate investigations.
Allegations that Mr Arafat was a heavy drinker, which is forbidden in Islam, would have clouded the mourning that began on November 11, when he died.
The report that Mr Arafat, 75, was suffering from cirrhosis was bolstered by an article in Le Monde, which said he had suffered from “intravascular coagulation”, a blood clotting condition that can be a sign of late-stage liver failure and can be consistent with cirrhosis.