Monday, July 09, 2012

Does The Arab World Actually Care How Arafat Died?

There was a time when such a question would have been answered in the affirmative, but does the same hold true today?

Guy Bechor suggests that the today, there really is not that much interest in whether Arafat died from Polonium poisoning. Instead, the most interested party appears to be Al Jazeera--which is not to say that Palestinians don't believe Israel did it.

Indeed, the way Bechor describes it, this is a battle by Al Jazeera to control the anti-Israel Palestinian agenda, which has been sitting on the back burner in light of the more pressing issues facing the Arab world in general.
Al Jazeera invested into "researching" Arafat's death and sensationalizing the story with headlines, coverage on both its TV channel and website, interviews with Suha Arafat, follow-up stories--and of course the expected updates on Facebook and Twitter.

What does Al Jazeera have to show for this so far?

According to Bechor: not much--
The result was embarrassing. News stories about Syria prompt hundreds of talkbacks on al-Jazeera’s website yet Arafat, despite the huge headlines, only elicited dozens of cool reactions. His widow received 10 responses, some of them insulting. Ahmed from Canada wrote: “Assad is burning Syria and slaughtering its people, and al-Jazeera prepares an investigative report about the death of Arafat 10 years ago? Please cover the distress of Syria’s citizens 24 hours a day.”

“I’m a Kurd from Kurdistan and I think that a Palestinian hand murdered Arafat,” another commentator wrote. “Is all of this done out of love for Arafat, or in order to topple someone else?” yet another reader wrote, hinting that al-Jazeera is planning to topple Mahmoud Abbas, who isn’t popular with network officials.

Even the responses to Suha Arafat were disparaging and venomous. One reader wrote: “Before demanding to exhume Arafat’s body, return the donation money you took.” Ouch. That’s not quite what al-Jazeera expected.
How about the competition--have they jumped in to help fuel the flames?

Apparently not.

On its website, the Saudi al-Arabiya removed it's initial story that there were doubts about how Arafat died--replacing that approach with actually disparaging the al-Jazeera story and claiming this was all old news, many Palestinians already believe Arafat was poisoned and besides--the Swiss lab that did the test has come out saying there is no decisive proof that Arafat was murdered.

Bechor concludes:
Al-Jazeera, which aimed to restore the old Arab agenda, merely proved that it was an invented agenda to a large extend; an outdated agenda. This network, which wanted to lay a trap for Israel, fell in it itself and revealed its intentions. Instead of promoting agendas, al-Jazeera would do well to engage in the issues that truly bother and threaten Arab citizens. To its regret, these issues do not involve Israel.
Time will tell what will be found when Arafat's body is exhumed and tested, assuming of course that this is done in a way that is credible.

But for now, aside from Al-Jazeera, those most interested is pushing the story seem to be the anti-Israel twitterers, who themselves are showing signs of needing fresh meat.

Hat tip: P David Hornik, Latest Arafat Death Conspiracy Theory Debunked

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