The rumor began with an article by Oriana Fallaci whose only evidence was that his bodyguards at the time were extremely handsome young men. (By the time I was seeing him in the 1990s that was certainly not true at all.)
Of course, Arafat was a weird person and in our biography, Arafat: A Political Biography, Judith Colp Rubin and I explain his psychology and personality. One of my favorite Palestinian jokes about Arafat recounts that he is patting the head of a little girl and asks her, “Whose daughter are you?”
She answers, “Yours.” Arafat was considered by his countrymen to be so cold that he didn’t recognize his own begotten daughter. The story is almost plausible.
But I repeat: there is no reason to think Arafat was a homosexual or died of AIDS or poisoning. He was overweight, ate an unhealthy diet, worked long hours, didn’t take care of himself (he believed eating honey would keep him healthy), and had very bad doctors despite their local reputations.
So we know who killed Arafat: his doctors, entourage, movement, and of course his own body. Yet when I go to Yahoo, what do I see but Arafat’s “mysterious” death as the lead story in the entire world, as if any accusation made against Israel must be true.
Arafat may have been a homosexual but proponents of the theory that he died of AIDs have a basic problem: If that is so, then Suha, the Palestinian leaders, and the French doctors know it. Wouldn’t the Palestinians keep quiet rather than draw attention to the question and claim they will open the documents or even the grave? And don’t they fear that Israel and possibly other countries would then provide detailed information of Arafat’s hijinks including photos? At any rate, until there is real evidence the issue will remain unresolved.
Note: Here’s a history of the Israel-killed-Arafat tale in Palestinian Media Watch. For more analysis of why the claims are absurd see here and here. Note: Here’s a history of the Israel-killed-Arafat tale in Palestinian Media Watch. Here’s some more information about the Israeli decision to let Arafat go to Paris. One interesting point is that it implies the French doctors took some action which might have been correct but could also imply that they are at fault for Arafat’s turn for the worse, giving them a motive for not revealing details of his treatment.