First, there was the announcement that he was in critical condition in his compound in Ramallah. Doctors were called- he was in a coma and being transferred to a hospital. The reports, by and large, had Arafat on his death bed- until late that night. Suddenly he was conscious and resting comfortably in a private room. Huh? This was a little odd.
The following morning there was a report that he was dead- only to be refuted an hour later that he wasn't dead. The original report was from the hospital. Were the doctors that incompetent? They couldn't determine when someone was dead? The option was offered that perhaps he was merely brain dead- not really that dead at all.
It was at this point it ceased to be a news item for me and was now more a form of entertainment. Thoughts of Monty Python danced through my head--
"He's not dead!"
"Yes, he is!"
"No, he's not!"
Old man who looked pretty dead pipes in, "I'm getting better!"
Would Arafat get better? I couldn't wait to see.
But alas, it was not to be. He did die- after a suitable amount of noise about people being unfeeling and rushing the man to his grave. But that was the whole issue, anyway. It is in their faith that the dead must be buried within 24 hours of death. The funeral was not arranged- so they had to stall for time. Hence, the comedy show.
Was it worth it? I certainly would have second thoughts about sending anyone to that hospital.
"We'll ma'am, he's just sort of dead. I wouldn't call the mortuary yet until we're more certain."
I haven't seen a political situation more in need of a Saturday Night Live skit in a very long time!
The saddest part was the number of dignitaries who refused to attend the interment due to security concerns. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and his graveside was not a peaceful place to be.
Then again- CBS decided that they had made a mistake in reporting the "official" death of the man by cutting into an episode of CSI:NewYork. It is definitely a confusing world we live in.