Jonah, that Arafat-died-of-Aids story is “no shocker” to you, and pretty much an open secret in diplomatic circles. I’m in Madrid at the moment, and it prompted many knowing chortles among political types I mentioned it to today, along with fond reminiscences about Yasser’s corps of hunky blond Scandinavian bodyguards – an odd bunch of chaps to find in Ramallah, but presumably they were doing the jobs Palestinians won’t do.
Yet this revelation no doubt came as news to most of the late Father of his Country’s citizenry. So it will be interesting to see the impact of this revelation on Fatah’s already collapsed standing. When Ahmad Jibril announces “to every honorable member of the Fatah movement that he should be happy that we got rid of the plague, which had been imposed upon them and upon the Palestinian people”, I would assume he knows whereof he speaks. If you were a Hamas publicity guy and you wanted to deliver the coup de grace to a regime of unloved secular kleptocrats, outing them as promiscuous gay secular kleptocrats would seem to be the perfect move.
For the rest of us, if you needed one more reason why the west’s Humpty Dumpty strategy of putting Fatah together again is never going to work, this is it. To the Foreign Minister of Spain, Arafat is one of the towering figures of the last century. To the Palestinians, he’s a fraud. On this, they’re right. Hamas is ugly but real, Fatah is marginally less ugly but over.