After polonium revelation, Israel’s PR hacks revive lies that Arafat was gay and died of AIDS

Yasser Arafat’s tombstone in Ramallah. Tristam Sparks Flickr

While Israel markets itself as the most gay-friendly country in the world, its PR hacks are busy reviving homophobic rumors that Arafat was a gay “sexual deviant” who died of AIDS due to his promiscuity.

On Tuesday, Aljazeera broke a bombshell story that the clothes Arafat wore as he died of a sudden and mysterious illness in 2004, contained strong traces of the lethal radioactive element polonium, raising the possibility that he may have been poisoned.

Arafat fell ill on 12 October 2004 at his Ramallah headquarters where he was besieged by Israeli forces and died in a French military hospital in Paris on 11 November 2004.

Following Aljazeera’s revelations, Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, has called for her late husband’s body to be exhumed so that further tests could be carried out.

Genealogy of a lie: Arafat “died of AIDS”

Following the Aljazeera report, Lenny Ben-David, former Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and current public relations consultant to the Israeli government, posted a lurid article at The Times of Israel reviving rumors that Arafat died of AIDS and blaming his “sexual proclivities”:

Yasser Arafat was a murderous, genocidal, diabolical, duplicitous sexual deviant who died at the age of 75. He was despised by Arab and Israeli alike.

Ben-David dismisses the possibility that Arafat was poisoned and asserts:

Less romantic and mythical, however, is the more likely cause of Arafat’s death – AIDS.

Arafat’s sexual proclivities have been an open secret for years. The former head of Rumanian intelligence, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, disclosed in his book “Red Horizons,” that one of his officers reported, “the ‘Fedayee’ [Arafat’s code name] 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.”

In addition to this “evidence,” Ben-David cites another piece of “proof” that has circulated widely on Zionist websites:

After Arafat’s death, his personal physician admitted in a TV interview that his patient died of AIDS.

Both of these pieces of “evidence” are junk.

Notably, Ben-David’s article has been tweeted and amplified by influential former AIPAC operative Josh Block.

Fabrications as source of Arafat rumor

The account from Ion Pacepa a former Romanian intelligence official – which appears to be the original source of the rumors about Arafat’s sexuality – was described by Scott Long recently as a collection of “fabrications”:

Putative insults directed at the sexualities of US enemies in the region are legion. There was, and is, for instance, a longstanding rumor that Yasser Arafat was gay and died of AIDS, spread by neoconservatives with glee. Unlike most rumors, it’s possible to pinpoint this one’s source with some precision. Ion Pacepa, chief of foreign intelligence in Ceauşescu’s Romania, defected to the US in 1978, and later composed his memoir, Red Horizons, while under CIA protection. In it, he claimed that secret microphones caught Arafat making love to his male bodyguard while visiting Bucharest. The book is full of wild stories, and this particular propaganda gem had a two-birds usefulness for the US: it impugned not only Arafat for screwing a man, but Ceauşescu (notoriously puritanical) for tolerating it. The CIA called his book ”an important and unique contribution to the United States,” and it should be read as such, along with other important and unique fabrications such as the histories of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch.

Ashraf al-Kurdi interview: dubious and distorted

Ben-David, and numerous other Zionist publications, have circulated this video of Ashraf al-Kurdi, purporting to state in Arabic that Arafat had died of AIDS. Not only is the clip mistranslated and apparently misleadingly edited, but Kurdi is actually on record saying the opposite.

This is what the subtitles claim Kurdi said:

I asked to talk with one of the French doctors, I wanted to hear from them about his condition, but they didn’t answer me. When the president Yasser Arafat died, they sent me an e-mail, or a notification which according to it the president Arafat is hospitalized at their place and that from the blood tests it turns out that he suffers from Aids virus.

The video then cuts to an Israeli TV studio, where a commentator identified as Zvi Yehezkeli asserts that Kurdi had “admitted” that Arafat died of AIDS.

This is what Kurdi actually says:

The French doctors.. despite the fact that I spoke, that I asked to see any of them, or to hear from any of them, did not answer me. When President Yasser Arafat died, they sent me an email or an electronic letter, that Arafat had entered their hospital and after a blood test they found that he has the AIDS microbe.

The (mis)translation appears to suggest that Kurdi said Arafat “suffered from the Aids virus” – not so subtely suggesting he had the illness called AIDS. Kurdi never used the word “suffered” – he claimed only that Arafat “has the AIDS microbe” or virus based on a blood test. As everyone knows, having the HIV virus that causes AIDS, is not the same thing as “suffering from” AIDS.

But there’s more. The video clip cuts Kurdi off in mid-sentence. We were unable to find a longer clip, however a 2005 Los Angeles Times article about an investigation into the causes of Arafat’s death carried out jointly by The New York Times and Haaretz based on Arafat’s medical records they said they had obtained states the following:

The Haaretz report, based on excerpts from a book by two Israeli journalists who obtained the records, cited experts who found evidence both for and against theories that Arafat was poisoned or had AIDS. The journalists, Avi Isacharoff and Amos Harel, said infection was also a possible cause.

Their account quoted Arafat’s personal physician, Ashraf Kurdi, as saying that he knew French doctors had found evidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, though the medical report makes no mention of AIDS or of any tests having been performed to detect it. Specialists found it strange the records did not mention an AIDS test, given the suspicions.

Kurdi said he believed Arafat was injected with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, to disguise the effects of poisoning, according to the account in Haaretz. Kurdi, who was not with Arafat in Paris, did not say why he believed French doctors had discovered evidence of AIDS.

In other words, Kurdi, who is being presented as “confirming” Arafat died of AIDS, is actually on record saying he believes Arafat was poisoned even though he was not anywhere near Arafat when he died. Was the video clip cut and translated in order to distort Kurdi’s words?

But what is also strange is that Kurdi claims he received a written notification by email from French doctors. Where is this email, if it exists?

Arafat did not have HIV and did not die of AIDS

Copies of Yasser Arafat’s medical reports indicate multiple HIV tests that all returned negative results. Al Jazeera English

In the 50-minute Aljazeera documentary, reporter Clayton Swisher observes that “the most stubborn myth” surrounding Arafat “is that he died of AIDS.”

But as Dr. David Barclay, the forensic expert whom Aljazeera commissioned to examine Arafat’s medical records states, “He didn’t have AIDS. They did two HIV tests, both of which were negative.”

Dr. Tawfik bin Shabaan, a Tunisian specialist of internal medicine. Al Jazeera English

“These French tests,” Swisher states, “confirm the results of Dr. Tawfik bin Shaaban who was part of the Tunisian team treating Arafat in Ramallah.”

“It is my speciality… HIV, It is my speciality,” bin Shaaban tells Aljazeera, “There is absolutely no way he had HIV.”

The lab results showing Arafat’s negative HIV test were published by Aljazeera. As Aljazeera explained, the French doctors used pseudonyms Frederic Martipon and Etienne Louvet in order to maintain secrecy regarding Arafat’s condition.

Zionists continue to spread the lie

While some dismiss the evidence presented by Aljazeera as mere conspiracy theory, some Zionist propagandists continue to spread lies about Arafat based on no evidence at all.

Ronny Naftaniel, for example, head of the Dutch Zionist organization CIDI, tweeted “it is said that there’s a Romanian video showing Arafat having sex with his bodyguards. So cause of death was indeed Aids?” (Thanks to @Mariamkea for translation).

Naftaniel was citing an article in Ynet by Ronen Bergman that recycles and embellishes the noncredible claims from the Romanian memoir. In Bergman’s version, the microphones become video cameras:

Ion Mihai Pacepa, the Romanian communist security chief who defected to the United States, claimed that his men shot a video of Arafat’s room while he was the guest of Romanian ruler Ceausescu. In the images, Arafat was supposedly documented having sex with his bodyguards. Ariel Sharon told some of his close associates that Israel secured this videotape and considered the option of posting it on the Internet in order to shame Arafat.

Pacepa’s book makes no mention of “videos” or “images” and that’s understandable given that the events supposedly took place in the early 1970s.

Using homophobia to “shame” Arafat and Arabs

What’s notable here is the reference to “shame.” As Seymour Hersh (cited by Long) observed, the homophobic and orientalist-racist premise of the ‘Arafat was gay’ rumors is that Arab and Muslim men are particularly prone to sexual shaming, and that this alleged vulnerability can be used as a weapon against them, as it was used by American torturers at Abu Ghraib prison:

The notion that Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation became a talking point among pro-war Washington conservatives in the months before the March, 2003, invasion of Iraq. … [Patai’s] book includes a twenty-five-page chapter on Arabs and sex, depicting sex as a taboo vested with shame and repression. “The segregation of the sexes, the veiling of the women … and all the other minute rules that govern and restrict contact between men and women, have the effect of making sex a prime mental preoccupation in the Arab world,” Patai wrote. …  The Patai book, an academic told me, was “the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior.” In their discussions, he said, two themes emerged—”one, that Arabs only understand force and, two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation.”

“Outing Arafat”

Why should Arafat’s sexuality be of interest to propagandists loyal to an Israeli “state” that is going to great pains to present itself as a haven of gay rights amid an ocean of intolerance and to attract gay tourists and their money to Tel Aviv?

According to former Israeli diplomat and current Israeli PR hack Lenny Ben-David, all these gay tourists are nothing more than “sexual deviants.”

The lurid stories and lies about Arafat’s sexual relationships aim to provoke homphobic reactions and marshal this homophobia to produce hostility and revulsion at Arafat, and to delegitimize him in the eyes of an Arab audience that is presumed to always be disgusted by such behavior.

These Israeli reactions belie Israel’s “pink” marketing and expose the homphobia that exists at the heart of so much of its propaganda.




They are in the gutter. The same month a brutal terrorist like Shamir who killed his own people died (and yet they celebrated him), they attempt to defame one of the greatest figures in the long history of guerilla warfare and liberation movements.


But if Arafat didn't have the HIV virus, why would the French doctors send an email to Kurdi stating the opposite? Has anyone checked with him to confirm this story?


To our knowledge Kurdi has never produced such an email. The onus is on him, making the claim, to furnish it. Given that we now have the original HIV tests, it’s beside the point.