Yasser Arafat Poisoned? Gay and Dying of AIDS?

Given the sketchiness of reports on the mystery ailment that is killing (or, as some believe, have already killed, Yasir Arafat, it’s inevitable that speculation will flourish. A couple of the more interesting theories going around:

Suspicions grow that Arafat is dying of AIDS (Israel Insider)

Former White House speechwriter David Frum has joined the growing chorus of pundits, medical experts, and intelligence operatives who claim Yasser Arafat is likely suffering from AIDS. Frum, a key figure in Republican politics and the man who coined the terms “axis of evil,” writes in National Review Online that Arafat’s undisclosed illness is well-known, but has been kept under wraps by the mainstream media. “Speaking of media bias, here’s a question you won’t hear in our big papers or on network TV: Does Yasser Arafat have AIDS?” asks Frum, who also writes for the National Post. “We know he has a blood disease that is depressing his immune system. We know that he has suddenly dropped considerable weight — possibly as much as one-third of all his body weight. We know that he is suffering intermittent mental dysfunction. What does this sound like?”

Earlier, John Loftus told John Batchelor on ABC radio on October 26 that Arafat is dying from AIDS. Loftus said the CIA has known this about Arafat for quite awhile and that as a result the US has encouraged Sharon not to take Arafat out because the US has known Arafat was about done. It was deemed better to have Arafat discredited as a homosexual. Although homosexuality is rife in the Arab world, it is at least officially consider a sin and a crime, and regarded–especially in fundamentalist circles–as a mark of great shame and depravity.

Frum pointed to KGB evidence linking Arafat to homosexual activities, citing a 1987 book by Lt.-Gen. Ion Pacepa, the deputy chief of Romania’s intelligence service under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

Hilarious. While I’ve got no information to confirm or deny this one, color me exceedingly skeptical. Aside for the fact that this is in a presumably anti-Arab publication (I found this on Memorandum), one would think such information would have been publicized by one of Arafat’s numerous enemies before now. This is also the first that I’ve heard about homosexuality being “rife” in the Arab world. While this topic has certainly been outside my research agenda, my limited understanding of sexual orientation is that it’s pretty much randomly distributed.

This one has been circulating a bit longer:

Arafat poisoned? (NY Daily News)

A Palenstian diplomat accused the Israelis yesterday of poisoning Yasser Arafat. “The doctors until now could not diagnose precisely what is wrong with him, but it is believed there is a poison,” Ali Kazak, who heads the Palestinian delegation to Australia, told the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne. “It could be poison because they have checked everything, and his body is in good health, there is no cancer, it is not leukemia.” Arafat’s doctor, Ashraf Kurdi, told the Al Jazeera satellite TV network that, “Arafat’s health condition makes poisoning a strong possibility.”

Israelis, who gave Arafat safe passage from his West Bank compound to a French military hospital last week, denied the charge. “It’s absolute nonsense; it’s completely ridiculous,” an Israeli government source said. Kurdi has not yet diagnosed Arafat’s mysterious blood ailment, and last night the 75-year-old Palestinian leader was hovering “between life and death.”

“He is in a coma,” Leila Shahid, the Palestinian envoy to France, said. “We don’t know the type, but it’s a reversible coma. He may or may not wake up. All vital organs are functioning.” But other Arafat aides insisted their 75-year-old leader was brain dead and on life support. They said his wife, Suha, is weighing whether to pull the plug. “He is being aided by respiratory machines and his condition appears irreversible,” a high-ranking Palestinian official told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

This one strikes me as more plausible. Certainly, there are many people who will be glad when Arafat is gone. Still, so far as I know, there is no evidence of poisoning.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. paperclip says:

    My god, I can’t believe the homophobic, AIDS-ignorant sh*t these people are prepared to disseminate. (Quite apart from the fact that it has no bearing whatsoever on Arafat or his condition, regardless of your opinion of him.) It seems to me that evidently their despicable bigotry extends well beyond anti-Arab sentiment.

    It makes me so angry, how dare they?!

  2. Cricket says:

    It could also be luekemia. But one wonders, why
    suppress WHAT he is suffering from unless he really
    does have AIDS or they honestly don’t know?

  3. McGehee says:

    If there were credible information about Arafat’s illness and present condition, there wouldn’t be all this wild speculation going on.

    Me, I couldn’t care less why he’s sick. My only regret is that his death can’t be directly attributed to anti-terrorist action.

  4. denise says:

    Paperclip — You’re kind of missing the point. If there is any reason to disseminate information that Arafat is a homosexual and dying of AIDS, it is that such information would degrade him in the eyes of his followers.

    The point is not to mock him or make him look bad to Americans. Most Americans are in the same camp as McGehee: don’t care why he’s sick or with what, and won’t miss him when he’s gone.

  5. Rodney Dill says:

    I thought McGehee’s point was more why should he get to die peacefully in a hospital bed, when he’s sent so many of the Palestinian’s future generation to blow themselves up in self-defeating suicide attacks.

  6. Emo says:

    Poisoning has been ruled out definitively and absolutely by Arafat’s doctors at France’s premier specialist AIDS hospital (where he is currently being treated).

    It’s not homophobic to raise Arafat’s homosexuality or to suggest he may have AIDS. The question is, why has he been forced to hide his sexuality and his disease for so long?

    The only likely cause for the symptoms he has manifested over the past several years that has NOT been discussed – is AIDS, and everything but AIDS has been ruled out by his doctors. AIDS has not even been mentioned in relation to his condition, which is odd considering how closely his symptoms are associated with the late stages of the disease. Why the shame and silence?

    An Arafat AIDS story from a gay website:

  7. B. A.I says:

    yasser, a terrorist to the end, I fail to mention he likes little boys R.I.P

  8. sb says:

    It is disguting for them to try to “discredit” Arafat by saying he was gay for two reasons:

    1. It implies that ordering the killings of hundreds or even thousands of civilians alone would not discredit him.
    2. It shows that those making up the rumors hate homosexuals so much that if someone was evil then automatically he had to have been gay.

  9. stefania says:

    the comments about Arafat liking “little boys” is bullshit, unless you consider 17 year-olds to be little.

  10. Ultra Man says:

    Actually, this rumour that Arafat’s gay has been around for decades. Ion Pacepa even wrote about it in his book, Red Horizons.

  11. woodland says:

    He is a fucking terrorist and is now worm food!
    Weep em man it’s America!

  12. Mamma Mia says:

    Of course, Arafat was homosexual. He is one of a breed of homosexual dictators, Castro is another one. No one speaks of this because it is better to have leaders be macho-men.

  13. Al Solanki says:

    Aids is another Israeli lie… don’t people understand by now.. that Israel wanted Arafat dead.. they knew if they blantly killed Arafat that ALL Palestinians would have marched to Tel aviv and blew themselves up??? So Israel finds another way to kill him by poisoning him and letting him die a slow death… And Don’t think the Israelis would never do that or couldn’t do that… You are just kidding yourself if you think that.

    I’M thinking that some of yous on this forum are just plain stupid or just a bunch sorry ass Arab haters..

  14. Al Solanki says:

    I’m sure all you idiots on this forum have lots of friends that have AIDS, right? All of sudden everybodies an expert in the medical field…

  15. brunilda says:

    I just can’t believe the amount of crap that has been written on this thread. Do you people reread what you write?
    First of all: If Arafat was gay and dying of aids so fucking what? Only the half-wits of the red states would fucking care.
    Second: Israel-Palestine are at war, and they have been for decades. Just as the Palestinians committed unspeakable violent acts, so did the Israelis, massacres extremely well documented, even by Israeli historians. So those of you who have said they are glad that a terrorist has died, should be equally praying for the death of Sharon, who provoked the Palestinians into starting a second Intifada.

  16. Conservador says:

    Live by the Gun, Die by the Hep C. He at least died of Hep C. And rumors that he was gay have been around for long time. Just look at the way he carries himself.

  17. Conservador says:

    Frum pointed to KGB evidence linking Arafat to homosexual activities, citing a 1987 book by Lt.-Gen. Ion Pacepa, the deputy chief of Romania’s intelligence service under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
    In his memoirs “Red Horizons,” Pacepa relates a conversation in 1978 with Constantin Munteaunu, a general assigned to teach Arafat and the PLO techniques to deceive the West into granting the organization recognition.

    “I just called the microphone monitoring center to ask about the ‘Fedayee,'” Arafat’s code name, explained Munteaunu. “After the meeting with the Comrade, he went directly to the guest house and had dinner. At this very moment, the ‘Fedayee’ is in his bedroom making love to his bodyguard. The one I knew was his latest lover. He’s playing tiger again. The officer monitoring his microphones connected me live with the bedroom, and the squawling almost broke my eardrums. Arafat was roaring like a tiger, and his lover yelping like a hyena.”

  18. Maximil says:

    Either he died of AIDS or he was poisend.

    The key for the explantion is his wife Suha who doesn´t make the diagnosis of his illness public. Why ? Maybe she really doesn´t know it or she doesn´t want to say.

    The AIDS rumour could be propaganda by the Mossad &CO who know what a shame it is in the Arab world to be considered homosexual and who want to discredit Arafat.

    The thesis of poisoning could be another Middle Eastern conspiracy theory from the “opposite direction” with the usual scapegoats behind it. i.e. Israel. If you read the news recently Hamas likes to cite this possibility.

    P.S If you consider that Hamas was partly financed by Israel in the 90´s as an opposition to the PLO, before everything went out of control it´s not really the “opposite direction”.

  19. brunilda says:

    Thank you Maximil, for pointing out what is so common in history: two sides in war, two faces of the same coin… Until both parties are ashamed of what they’ve done to their own populations and those of their neighbours, there will be no peace.
    The “outing” of Arafat by conservative think-tanks in the US reminds me of the “outing” of Mary Cheney by Kerry. The conservatives were so outraged when that one happened… are they outraged now?

  20. Zara says:

    It seems to me that the allegation that Arafat died of AIDS is Israeli black propaganda of the worst type. It shows what these scumbags really think about gays.

    Since when was dying of AIDS a reason to spit and gloat and point the finger of shame at the unfortunate sufferer? David Frum helps to spread this black rumour, showing the Jew at his most vindictive. I feel very sorry for the descendants of the victims of Auschwitz. Do they really need to stoop so low?


  21. Graduate student in life sciences says:

    1st, for the homophobic ignorant people out there, just because you are gay, does not mean you are going to get aids, and just because you are straight, doesn’t mean you won’t. In fact, AIDS epidemic is wide spread in south Asia and south America because of all the unprotected straight sex (prostitution, rape), and much less percentage of the Arabic population has been diagnosed with HIV infection.

    2nd, for all you Arab hating ignorant people out there, how do you think your forefathers got this piece of land from the British? How do you think you aquired Texas from Mexico? People will always fight for land and resources, and Arafat is as guilty for killing the innocents as the Israelis. But in the American media, a bus bomb killing Israeli children is just so much more evil than the Israeli army wiping out an entire Palestinian village! Why do so many people from this country think that the world is black and white, and they know all about other country’s business, when they don’t even go see everything themselves. Of all the industrial countries, Americans travel the least. And interestingly, those who travel generally are much more liberal when it comes to interntaional policies. And president Bush is my best example.

    3rd, Israelis has openly advertised “getting rid of Arafat”. In fact there were 8 known previous assasination attemps. So I won’t be shocked to someday learn the evidence.

  22. Pushkin Daisy says:

    I agree with Zara and with the intelligent Graduate Student writing above. It’s time people got things in perspective. Arafat and all Arabs are hated in the US for one reason and one reason only: the US media is completely under the thumb of JEWS!!!

    The same people who are constantly whining on about anti-Semitism are the one who are doing most to promote Islamophobia and hatred of Arabs! They say that the former victims of abuse always become the greatest abusers later on. That’s certainly true of the Jews! Not content with killing Jesus Christ—and kill him they certainly did, as the New Testament clearly reveals!—they now spend their time thinking up ways to kill Palestinians and blackening the reputation of great men like Yasser Arafat!

    Note: you will hear no criticism of that fat pig Ariel Sharon, butcher of Sabra and Chatila, war criminal par excellence! Shame on the Jews! Shame on them for having the indecency to be governed by the nauseating war criminal Sharon! Yuck! pardon me while I hunt for my sick bag!

  23. avi says:

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  24. Spliff Richard says:

    It´s strange that you don´t hear or read anything on the cause of Arafat´s death anymore. So probably the AIDS rumor is correct otherwise we would know.

  25. Spliff Richard says:
  26. matt says:

    As for Arafat, one can only say that it is a sad state of affairs in the Arab world if his so called “outing” as a pillow biter will destroy his legacy, a legacy which ironically enough comes from acts of terrorism that costs the lives of many innocent Israelis and Palestinians when peace was within his grasp. I believe when history judges him, it will not be his sexuality, but his complete and utter failure to honestly represent his people that will define him.

    As to those who want to blame the Jews, remember, if the Palestinians all put their weapons down today, there would be peace, and if all the Israelis put their weapons down, there would be another holocaust.
    Just remember, as Golda Meir said “Only when the Palestinians love their children more than they hate us will there be peace.”

  27. Spliff Richard says:

    If it were that easy, Matt.Remember in 1948 when the Palestinians had no arms they were systematically driven out of their lands by the Hagana (“Plan Dalet”).

  28. Rose Nightingale says:

    We now know, from Arafat’s French doctors,that poisoning can be ruled out as a cause of Arafat’s death. We may choose to disbelive the French doctors. They could be involved in a cover-up. But what motive would they have for lying? None whatever. They have nothing to gain from such a cover-up.

    As to the allegation that Arafat died of AIDS, we know only too well that those making this vicious allegation are mostly people of Jewish origin. They have most to gain by blackening Arafat’s reputation. Spite is their driving force. One has to feel sorry for them.

    How can we be sure that the allegation that Arafat died of AIDS is nonsense? For this reason: if the people who make this claim had the slightest EVIDENCE that Arafat had AIDS, they would produce the evidence. It is inconceivable that Arafat could have been receiving medication for AIDS without leaving a paper trail or other concrete evidence of some kind: e.g. a single PRESCRIPTION, an invoice from a pharmacist, or the odd bottle of pills with Arafat’s fingerprints all over it!

    You can be pretty sure that if Arafat had AIDS, such physical evidence would now be in Israeli hands. It is not. They have no such evidence.

    Conclusion: the AIDS hypothesis is a lot of hot air dreamt up by a bunch of sick Jews.

    Rose Nightingale

  29. Spliff Richard says:

    So why do you think the offical cause of his death is not made public? Today even some mainstream newspapers don´t rule out Aids as a possible cause of his death, among others.

  30. John Veritas, Cambridge, UK says:

    Rose Nightingale’s remarks make good sense. To Spliff Richard I would say:good point. But not good enough! Firstly, it’s not logical to conclude that Arafat died of Aids just because his French doctors remain tightlipped. Hasn’t Spliff heard of medical confidentiality?

    After all, Arafat could have been poisoned. Maybe there’s the need to spare Israel embarrassment.To keep the shocking news from leaking out.To reveal that Arafat was poisoned by Jews would expose the French medical profession to the charge of anti-Semitism. It would be too risky. The lives of those doctors would then be at risk. Mossad agents would silence them.

    Secondly, the fact that some “mainstream” newspapers have mentioned the possibility of Aids does not mean that Arafat did in fact die of Aids. It simply airs the possibility. It PROVES NOTHING!

    Thirdly, what does Spliff mean by the “mainstream” press? Does he mean the Jerusalem Post, the Daily Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal, the Toronto Star and other newspapers owned by our Jewish friends and/or staffed almost entirely by Jewish journalists? If so, I can well understand the eagerness of these guys to flog the Aids hypothesis!

    Such people, we know, have an axe to grind. They are consumed with a virulent hatred of all things Arab.

    It’s also because they know, deep down, that the world is only too well aware that Israel is living on stolen land. That the Jews have been guilty of massive ethnic cleansing in Palestine. That the Jewish people, once the victims of Nazi genocide, are now engaged in their own brand of daily genocide.

    All this drives the Jews crazy. The knowledge that they have lost the plot. So they find relief in dreaming up lies about Arafat. As Ms Nightingale has astutely observed, spite is the driving force of these poor sickos. Their brutal occupation and hijacking of someone else’s country has brutalised them. They have lost the moral high ground.

    Witness the cruel death of Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist run over by an Israeli bulldozer while still alive!). Witness the death of Tom Hurndall, a British cameraman and peace activist shot by an Israeli sniper and left brain-dead! Witness the death of thousands of innocent Palestinian children, like the unarmed 13-year-old Palestinian girl shot 16 times by an Israeli soldier as she lay cowering and defenceless on the ground last week. The list of atrocities goes on…and on…and on. It’s endless.

    Are these comments of mine anti-semitic? No. I don’t think so. They are the unvarnished truth. These things happened. They actually happened. Check if you want.

  31. Spliff Richard says:

    John- first I think you misunderstood my point. Of course I know about medical confidentiality. The point is that had Arafat died of a heart attack I think everybody would know. But it does seem like Suha Arafat and other palestinans make a secret of his death – and he wasn´t poisoned as they say themselves. Even Arafats Nephew just said so two of three days ago. And I don´t think they´re all afraid of the almighty Mossad.

    Secondly if your statement about the biased “jewish” mainstream press was true, how would you explain that for example the jewish NY Times was the only newspaper that reported immediatly on the massacres of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon back in the 80´s when Sharon was minister of defence and a few days ago even the spanish “El Mundo” mentioned HIV as one of many possibilities ?

  32. John Veritas, Cambridge, UK says:

    To Spliff: your reasoning is sound and I accept the points you have made so cogently. It’s a pleasure to cross swords with such an intelligent and well-informed adversary.

    I am nevertheless left with a sad feeling that Arafat has not been treated fairly. OK, so he may have had Aids. Let’s admit that’s a possibility. What saddens and repels me, though, is the obscene delight with which these Islamophobes gloat over the fact that Arafat was gay and died of a sexually transmitted disease. It’s not the FACT itself that disgusts me so much, Spliff, it’s the delight they take in it. In the process, they also reveal themselves as vindictive homophobes.

    You see my point, don’t you?

    My general attitude to Israel remains unchanged. I regard Israel as an illegitimate terrorist state. One day, God willing, it will reap a bitter harvest and pay for the suffering it has caused in the Middle East by its brutal occupation of someone else’s land.

    I foresee the day when the Jewish people will be sent on their travels again. Back to the countries of their origin. On a second diaspora. Roll on the day!

    Nice talking to you, Spliff.