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International Issues Paper: The Decision to Exhumate Yasser Arafat

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Anthro 41A - International Issues Paper: The Decision to Exhumate Yasser Arafat

The way people stay updated on what goes on in the world around them comes in a number of forms. For instance, becoming aware of a current event may take on a verbal form, like simply speaking to one another. Or it may take on a visual form, where a person can witness an event with their eyes or just read about it. It may even be a mixture of both forms by simply watching and listening to a news program discussing the event on a television set at home. The influx of information about current events occurring from the rest of the world to ourselves has become a central part of people's lives, so it is natural for people to be dependent on the news media for the latest happenings across the globe. However, with all people being entitled to their own opinions, the writers who are responsible for dispersing the information out to the public need to be mindful about being objective in their writing rather than being subjective. But, considering that no human being is perfect and may have had their beliefs influenced by their culture(s) and experiences, it is common to see some journalists focus on certain issues over others in their media publications. Therefore, it is important for people to distinguish the way journalists reveal their facts as they may contain various kinds of biases that can easily influence the public opinion or perception of daily occurrences. By analyzing article sources obtained from the countries of Israel, Palestine, China, and the United States in regards to the recent approval of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in digging up Yasser Arafat's remains in order to uncover reasons for his mysterious death, each journalist respective to the countries listed has shown their presentation about Abbas' decision in similar lights, but greatly differs in their emphasis of background information, suggesting the presence of bias and subjectivity in each of their viewpoints.

According to The Jerusalem Post, a newspaper source from Israel, the journalist describes the background information of claims against Israel as somewhat unjust. The article first discusses how Bassam al-Salhi, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, claims that "the main accusation [for Arafat's death] is "directed toward Israel," while later adding that "previous investigations relied on a 500-page report" that indicated his death to be a direct result of poison despite the lacking evidence of any known poison in his body, as issued by the French military hospital at which Arafat spent his final days in (The Jerusalem Post, July 2012). The order in which the journalist presents this information is notably significant, as the first statement focuses on how the Palestinian government sees the Israeli government as responsible for their predecessor's death. However, the second statement concerning the poison makes it seem as if the Palestinians are accusing Israel without enough justification because the French hospital team that first admitted him initially diagnosed Arafat's death as a case of poisoning even though they discovered no scientific evidence to suggest such a claim (The Jerusalem Post, July 2012). The journalist, in a sense, victimizes the Israeli government by making them appear wrongly accused. This idea is further suggested because the article only focuses on the tension Palestine has towards Israel and does not reflect upon the reverse. Considering that the journalist is situated in Israel, it may be safe to assume that the journalist simply sympathizes with his native country, as displayed in the author's article. As a result, it seems that this journalist is more concerned about the political implications that the discovery would make upon the government of Israel, if found guilty, rather than emphasize what the findings would mean for the Palestinian people. In general, the Israeli article focuses on the reputation of the Israeli government at stake in regards to the incident, allowing them to take a share of the Palestinians' side of the story away from the readers. This aspect may possibly influence readers to sympathize more with the Israeli government rather than the Palestinian people. Under the consideration that it is the Palestinians who have lost someone important to them, not the Israeli people, this is rather ironic. However, in the United States, the Daily Breeze views the approval and its circumstances in terms of necessity. In short, the journalist seems to be debating on whether the investigation is necessary at all. In general, the journalist of the article describes the situation at hand from a scientific viewpoint but appears to have some reservations about Abbas' decision. The reasoning for my claim is that the journalist heavily focuses on how various scientists are not very optimistic about their success rate of finding conclusive evidence throughout the article. This is best exemplified by the fact that "polonium breaks down relatively quick," where "after eight years, much of any sample would be gone," according to a scientific expert (Daily Breeze, July 2012). Furthermore, with elevated levels of polonium found on belongings used by Arafat, the journalist goes on to mention how another scientific expert believes it "would not necessarily mean Arafat was poisoned," but rather that the "results are clearly not a proof of any poisoning," (Daily Breeze, July 2012). In other words, the magnified amount of polonium found on Arafat's clothing is simply unexplainable at the moment. This statement in itself is significant because it completely contrasts with what The Jerusalem Post had confirmed about how the French hospital team that Arafat was admitted to diagnosed him of poisoning although they could not find any scientific evidence suggesting otherwise (The Jerusalem Post, July 2012). In fact, the Daily Breeze clearly states, "Denis Gutierrez, a senior French military doctor, said he did not know whether French medics checked Arafat for polonium while he was at France's Percy military hospital, and was unaware of anything about poisoning in the 558-page classified report on his death," (Daily Breeze, July 2012). By downplaying the investigation's overall chances of success in finding conclusive evidence of a poisoning incident throughout the article, it seems as though the journalist considers the approval unnecessary and a waste of time. The influence of the journalist's writing can definitely influence the reader as a result, leading them to believe that the Palestinian government could be focusing on more important matters rather



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