Arafat illustration
Illustration by Eran Wolkowski
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Did Yasser Arafat die not of natural causes but rather from being poisoned by the radioactive material polonium-210 - a possibility that French prosecutors are now investigating, seven years after his death? Alexandre Dumas could not have thought up a better premise for a novel. Did he not imagine in "Queen Margot" a case in which poison is painted on the pages of a book that's sent to someone in order to kill him, but which falls by mistake into someone else's hands? And what about Napoleon? Two hundred years after his death, they are still investigating suspicions that he was poisoned with arsenic; new findings about the case keep coming out.

Which is to say: There is nothing more French, more misty or dark or Parisian, than this endless delving into incidents of poisonings of historic figures. And if it should now turn out that Arafat was actually poisoned by a blond Mossad agent, who disguised herself as a nurse and injected him with polonium masquerading as a formula for increasing sexual potency - the historical imagination will have an even better field day.

For know this: Nothing is more French than opening belated investigations into hopeless or near-hopeless matters of the sort dubbed causes perdues in their language. Among the array of such lost causes we may count the investigation that led the French judicial system to announce that the Turks' genocide of the Armenians happened! At first this sounded like a highly significant breakthrough. But where did that road lead? Nowhere - other than to the further radicalization of Turkey in its official position on this subject. No less sad a joke was the trial of Arkady Gaydamak, which became part of the so-called Angolagate affair in France, which was supposed to expose international bribery schemes, and which could furnish enough material for a series of novels. It all ended in a whimper, with Gaydamak being acquitted of most of the charges brought against him.

But let's suppose it turns out that there was a conspiracy to get rid of the elderly Palestinian leader by chemical means, and that the strands of the investigation lead to Israel and its notorious Mossad. A team of investigators will be sent here on behalf of the French prosecution, and their work will not be very demanding. In my opinion, Mossad representatives will be happy to deliver all the details they want on a plate, straight to the Netanya or Ashdod beach (two places beloved by French people ). For in the state the Mossad is in today - after the embarrassing affair of the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai and other discomfiting water-cooler stories that have come out lately - they would be delighted to hand over information about successful operations, even if they never took place.

In other words, we should not take lightly the supposition, being raised here in an exclusive scoop to which I still reserve the rights, that Suha Arafat, the ostensibly grieving widow, is actually an employee of Israel's Mossad. Well, she is, I'm telling you - believe me! The Mossad pays her a regular salary to continue spreading the idea around the world that it poisoned her husband. Why? To make it appear that the Mossad managed to carry out at least one assassination job cleanly and without leaving tracks, or almost none.

You don't believe me, right? Well I am here to tell you that Israel's espionage agency has been trying for years to poison me too. And it's obvious why: because it believes I endanger the country's safety with the subversive views I express in the literary supplement that I edit. Don't believe it, if you like. But for those who wish to hear the truth, I will say only this: that the Mossad dispatches people specially who call me on my cell phone day and night with questions such as, 'When are you going to publish my poem?" Or "Why haven't you published my article?" Or also, "There's an 'E' missing in the third word, in the second line of the fourth stanza of my poem." And so forth. There are those who insist on reading their entire poem to me over the phone with the "E" added. And why? Because, seeing as the cell phone is a disseminator of toxic radiation, the more I talk on it, the greater are my chances of dying by the same method they used to poison Arafat.

But their scheme won't succeed. I have outwitted them. Ha, ha! Because the person who takes their calls isn't me, but rather a representative of the French prosecution, who was sent at my widow's request to investigate the case of my slow radiation poisoning by the poets and writers of the Mossad.

You see, I myself, for your information, died a long time ago, of heartache, over the unjust, untimely death of our beloved emperor, Monsieur Yasser Napoleon Bonaparte. Allah rest his soul.