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PLO Terrorist Yassir Arafat Just a 'Father Figure of Palestinian Nationalism,' Says New York Times

Not even in death will the New York Times accurately describe Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yassir Arafat as a terrorist.

In a January 6, 2005 story not long after Arafat's death, then-Jersualem bureau chief Steven Erlanger described Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as having "no heroic history like that of his predecessor as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasir Arafat...."

On Wednesday, Rick Gladstone provided further evidence of the Times's pro-Palestinian slant, calling Arafat a "father figure" in a brief on a new Palestinian conspiracy theory around the terrorist leader's death: "Al Jazeera Says Arafat Might Have Been Poisoned."

The widow of Yasir Arafat, the father figure of Palestinian nationalism who mysteriously died more than seven years ago, said she would seek permission to exhume his remains for an inquest, after a report by Al Jazeera that said he might have been poisoned with polonium, a rare radioactive isotope. The report, which contradicted Mr. Arafat’s medical records, resurrected conspiracy theories on Twitter that he had been killed by agents of Israel or by Palestinian rivals.

Isabel Kershner followed up Thursday, referring to Arafat benignly as "the symbol of the Palestinian national struggle."

A potentially explosive re-examination of the circumstances behind the death of Yasir Arafat, the symbol of the Palestinian national struggle, has galvanized Palestinian suspicions that he was poisoned and led the Palestinian Authority to agree in principle on Wednesday to an exhumation of his remains, possibly within days.

Mr. Arafat’s widow, Suha, called for the exhumation a day earlier in an interview with Al Jazeera, the Arabic television channel based in Qatar, after it reported that Mr. Arafat might have been poisoned with polonium, a radioactive element associated with K.G.B.-style assassination intrigues.

The strongest terms Kershner can find for Arafat, who backed Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and presided over suicide bombings against Israeli citizens as leader of the Palestinian Authority during the five-year Intifada, is "confounding."

The legacy left by Mr. Arafat is as confounding as he was in life. Revered by many as the revolutionary founding father of Palestinian nationalism, he was also reviled, particularly by many Israelis, who considered him a terrorist. He was among three recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in accepting the Oslo accords, a blueprint for peace with Israel, but nearly 20 years later his promises of a Palestinian state remain unfulfilled. Corruption was also rampant under his leadership.