I’ve seen vague references to this rumor but haven’t investigated, mainly because I really don’t care what the old murderer is dying of. But reader John Schuler sent a link to this Israel Insider article, which makes a plausible case that Arafat does indeed have AIDS. Apparently his homosexuality has long been rumored, but such rumors have never, to my knowledge, penetrated the Western press.
Why should we care? Only because Arafat is so closely identified with the Palestinian cause. Indeed, it is fair to wonder whether there would even be a “Palestinian cause” as we know it today, but for Arafat. If Arafat is dying of AIDS as a result of longstanding homosexual behavior, it would add not a jot to the long history of criminality for which we abhor him. But, should the fact become known, it could discredit him in the Arab world to a degree that mass murder never did, with political consequences that could be significant. Hence, perhaps, the secrecy that surrounds his last days.
UPDATE: Of course, the likelihood of any accurate depiction of Arafat in the Western media is nil. Reader David Sauls called our attention to this absurd timeline of Arafat’s life published by the Associated Press. One could spend pages deconstructing the AP’s timeline, but, briefly, note these entries–all that the AP has to say about the period between 1969 and 1982:
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