Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Are the Palestinians outing Arafat?

Last Saturday (November 6), David Frum posted a widely overlooked item about Yasir Arafat and AIDS in his National Review Online Diary. At least I did not see it, nor did I see any references to it. Frum's provocative question--are the Palestinians trying to expose Arafat's suspected AIDS? Some extracts from Frum's column:

Everything we have heard about Arafat’s condition seems almost designed to make us suspect AIDS – and just to underscore the point, we are further told that he is not suffering from leukemia, the other plausible diagnosis. The sources of the information about Arafat’s depressed platelet count, his weight loss, his mental aberrations, and all the rest of his symptoms are apparently all Palestinians. ...

Why are Palestinian high-ups revealing all these alleged facts? Why would they want to put out information that so strongly suggests that their leader has this particular disease? Is it possible that they wish people to know (or believe) that Arafat has AIDS? Why would they want that? After all, ... in Palestinian culture, an AIDS diagnosis is bound to be a discrediting fact.

Unless … there are people around Arafat who want to discredit the old leader. It certainly is interesting that we are hearing about Arafat’s mysterious but AIDS-like illness at exactly the same moment that we are learning about Arafat’s multibillion-dollar Swiss bank accounts. ... Are we hearing from reformers who wish to clean up the abuses of Arafat’s personal rule? Or from Islamists who wish to hold themselves out as a more moral alternative? Or both? Or somebody else altogether?

There will be more ...