As the PA gears up for talks with Israel, a Palestinian Media Watch report reveals that it continues to promote the libel that Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat, in an attempt to establish him as a national martyr and create an environment of hate. PMW says the libel includes charges that the United States encouraged Israel to poison Arafat.
PMW Director Itamar Marcus told Israel National News, "We hear children in Palestinian-controlled regions referring to this libel regularly. It appears everywhere, and the idea is to make Arafat into a martyr. All this hate material is not just isolated name calling. It's being built into a basic part of Palestinian identity. It is being blended together into a comprehensive attempt at delegitimizing Israel."
Marcus had insights into the nature of the libel itself. "We believe that poisoning specifically was chosen as the charge because in the Hadith [writings on Mohammed], Mohammed is said to have been killed by poisoning, and we think that there is an attempt to raise Arafat to that tremendous status level [of Mohammed]," he said.
The PMW Report:
The PLO claims Arafat was killed with the "approval and help of the United States." Palestinian Media Watch has for years documented this recurring libel, which is spread by PA and Fatah leaders, academics and clerics. It is even disseminated through cultural events and media messages for children.
The following accusation that Israel killed Arafat, written by a Fatah member of the PLO's Palestinian National Council, appeared this week in the official PA daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, as translated by PMW:
"[In 2003] Israel, with the support of the new American administration of President Bush, laid oppressive siege to our late symbol, Yasser Arafat, until they got him with poison, since they weren't able to kill him using their tanks, which besieged his home in Ramallah. The details of the story are known to everyone, young and old, among our Palestinian people and throughout the world."
Nashat Al-Aqatsh, a lecturer at Bir-Zeit University, said in July while discussing the peace process:
"In the past [Israel claimed] no Palestinian partner existed, and they [Israel] killed the late Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat."
Earlier this summer, in a dramatic performance at a PLO cultural festival, two young Palestinian boys lamented Arafat's death, and compared his death at the hands of the Jews to the death of Jesus:
Boy 2: "Do not ask why it happened this way. Yesterday they crucified Jesus; today they poisoned the father, the Elder [Arafat]."
The PA Minister of Culture was present at this performance.
Click to see PMW web site with more examples documenting the ongoing PA libel that Israel killed Arafat.