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Part of the long and victorious march of image over substance? Arafat. still a celebrity. Still a locus for the communal lives of many. It is one of those incomprehensible and unexplainable side effects whereby a manufactured pop culture icon can be the primary way in which many understand the world. Even for the secular Arabs, Arafat is part of a religious process and his continued adulation a kind of spiritual response to the power of mass media and image reproduction where he maintained power and control overtly as a Guy Debord “Spectacle”; a performance artist centered on his personality.

But like all celebrities, the personality of Arafat was inherently a contradiction. There could never be an authentic intimacy with the PLO leader since he offered mass intimacy to the masses in an era of mass communication where the magic of the Arafat brand name gave him world dominance and his cultivated celebrity culture followed the American model by being  religion in disguise. It doesn’t have to pretend to be a pile of cow poop, everyone knew it, but it gave his followers the sustenance they needed. Also, Arafat fit the template of Celebrity implying its proper destruction. The larger and more glam the celebrity the harder the fall. Like William Wordsworth who in his time condemned the public’s insatiable thirst for “outrageous stimulation” that basic tenet applies to the cult of Arafat, and the need to keep it alive. Presto! there’s polonim.

—Before I defected to America from Romania, leaving my post as chief of Romanian intelligence, I was responsible for giving Arafat about $200,000 in laundered cash every month throughout the 1970s. I also sent two cargo planes to Beirut a week, stuffed with uniforms and supplies. Other Soviet bloc states did much the same. Terrorism has been extremely profitable for Arafat. According to Forbes magazine, he is today the sixth wealthiest among the world’s “kings, queens & despots,” with more than $300 million stashed in Swiss bank accounts.—Read More: image:

( see link at end) …General Aharon Zevi-Farkash, then-head of IDF intelligence, strongly objected to the request, based on the appraisal that Arafat’s life was not in danger. Arafat had been seen by medical experts from various Middle Eastern countries, and the IDF feared that the real goal of asking for new medical care was to allow Arafat to escape – which in turn would allow him to add fuel to the fire of the dying “intifada” terror war.

Then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was conflicted. A second phone call tipped the scales: a senior PA official called Weissglass and warned, “Arafat has only a few weeks to live. If he dies in the Mukata, you will be seen as responsible for his death, and the death will pursue you, like Christians have been blaming you for 2,000 years for the killing of Jesus.”

Sharon ordered Arafat released despite IDF commanders’ objections. The PA leader reached France in serious condition on October 29.

Reports that reached Israel stated that the PA leader was suffering complications of leukemia. Whether Arafat also had AIDS, as has been rumored, remains unclear….

—Scientists caution that traces on Arafat’s clothing aren’t sufficient proof of poisoning. Exhuming his body would a surer method. Derek Hill, a radiological science expert at University College London, said eight years after Arafat’s death in 2004, any polonium would have decayed and would be far less radioactive than it was at the time. But he says it would still be much higher than normal background levels, and with an autopsy it should be possible to tell “with a pretty high confidence” whether Arafat had polonium in his body when he died.—Read More:

There is always a fascination in digging up celebrities. This seemed to begin at the beginning of the Romantic movement and particularly the literary and poetic artists. The body of  novelist Laurence Sterne was exhumed soon after his death by resurrectionists because surgeons basically wanted to examine if his organs held the clue to his great renowned wit. Milton’s body was also treated to a dig-up and was dismembered: hair, teeth, fingernails, bones etc. were put on display and hawked for good money. Apparently, this dismantled John Milton was patched and sewn back together but only after the remains were induced to be brought back in by offering the scandalous prices asked for his body parts. Also, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s heart  was pilched from the flames of his funeral pyre on a beach in Italy and tussled over by Edward Trelawny and Leigh Hunt, with Hunt arguing for preserving it in a jar of wine, and the Trelawny, gallantly, wishing to present it to Shelley’s widow, Mary. Eventually, it ended up in a drawer of Mary’s writing table.

—Next, the KGB gave Arafat an ideology and an image, just as it did for loyal Communists in our international front organizations. High-minded idealism held no mass-appeal in the Arab world, so the KGB remolded Arafat as a rabid anti-Zionist. They also selected a “personal hero” for him–the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, the man who visited Auschwitz and reproached the Germans for not having killed even more Jews. In 1985 Arafat paid homage to the mufti, saying he was “proud no end” to be walking in his footsteps.
Arafat was an important undercover operative for the KGB. Right after the 1967 Six Day War, Moscow got him appointed to chairman of the PLO. Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser, a Soviet puppet, proposed the appointment. In 1969 the KGB asked Arafat to declare war on American “imperial-Zionism” during the first summit of the Black Terrorist International, a neo-Fascist pro-Palestine organization financed by the KGB and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi. It appealed to him so much, Arafat later claimed to have invented the imperial-Zionist battle cry. But in fact, “imperial-Zionism” was a Moscow invention, a modern adaptation of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and long a favorite tool of Russian intelligence to foment ethnic hatred. The KGB always regarded anti-Semitism plus anti-imperialism as a rich source of anti-Americanism.—Read More: image:

#8230;Arafat’s condition began to improve under French care. However, Israeli sources report, French doctors then tried a dramatic procedure – a total blood transfusion, in which all of Arafat’s blood was replaced with donor blood. Arafat went into a coma during the procedure and never woke up. He died on November 2011, 2004, and was buried in Ramallah.

The first-hand testimony from Israeli officials disproves reports in Al-Jazeera stating that Arafat died of polonium poisoning. The Al-Jazeera report has also been criticized by experts due to the claim of high polonium levels found in 2012, years after Arafat died, something deemed highly unlikely given the element’s short half-life.

—KGB chairman Yuri Andropov in February 1972 laughed to me about the Yankee gullibility for celebrities. We’d outgrown Stalinist cults of personality, but those crazy Americans were still naïve enough to revere national leaders. We would make Arafat into just such a figurehead and gradually move the PLO closer to power and statehood. Andropov thought that Vietnam-weary Americans would snatch at the smallest sign of conciliation to promote Arafat from terrorist to statesman in their hopes for peace.
Right after that meeting, I was given the KGB’s “personal file” on Arafat. He was an Egyptian bourgeois turned into a devoted Marxist by KGB foreign intelligence. The KGB had trained him at its Balashikha special-ops school east of Moscow and in the mid-1960s decided to groom him as the future PLO leader. First, the KGB destroyed the official records of Arafat’s birth in Cairo, replacing them with fictitious documents saying that he had been born in Jerusalem and was therefore a Palestinian by birth.—Read More:

The testimony also indicates reasons why the story was not revealed until now. Israel had no reason to disprove reports that the Mossad had been involved in Arafat’s death, as the reports added to fear of the Mossad and hence to Israel’s power of deterrence. France had no reason to make the truth public due to fear that French doctors could be blamed for Arafat’s passing.

The PA and Suha Arafat, Arafat’s widow, had no reason to make the truth known because Arafat’s death of natural causes was unlikely to serve the PA cause.Read More:


Yet he became a welcome guest not only of the French and Russians and of Saddam Hussein, but of the Americans. During President Bill Clinton’s two terms in office, Arafat was invited to the White House more than any other international political figure. (Clinton met Arafat a total of 24 times in eight years.)…

—He rails against the British Empire’s betrayals of the Arab world and seethes with hatred of Israel and the indifferent Arab regimes of Jordan and Egypt. Yet he portrays his Palestinian hosts with a disinterested, probing intimacy that renders issues of historical myth and national lineage moot. Indeed, the fedayeen often turn out to be more clear-eyed and cynical and circumspect than Genet. And narratives from without clash with narratives created within. The Palestinians who wish for Israel’s destruction as they battle the Bedouin troops of Jordan in 1971 operate in an ideological no-man’s land somewhere between Das Kapital and The Koran, “with God always bumping into the domed forehead of Marx, who denied him” . Genet’s Palestinians, wary of Islamic fundamentalism, resent the wealthy Palestinian aristocratic families who, secured by claims of descent from the prophet, sustain the viability of the movement.—Read More: image:

When Arafat died, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, shaking with emotion, called it “a grave day for the world,” and instructed headquarters in New York to especially fly the UN flag at half-mast. (This is despite the fact that Arafat did not represent any UN member state, and the UN doesn’t usually mark the death of leaders of even its member states in this way. The UN didn’t fly its flag at half-mast when, for example, Ronald Reagan died a few months before Arafat.)

Arafat siphoned away billions of dollars and squandered resources that could have been used productively to build a Palestinian state. His “extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud” (to quote a 1993 report by British Intelligence) were known about for years. Forbes magazine named him one of the world’s wealthiest leaders. His former finance minister, Salam Fayyad said $900m of western aid money had gone missing. Yet, until almost his last days, it was all but impossible to get major news organizations like the BBC to report on Arafat’s corruption. Read More:

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