I thank the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Netanyahu for turning this sad story of 40 years ago, into yet another instrument of bonding the Holy land (Israel-Palestine) with the heartland of Uganda in particular and Africa in general. I say that this is yet another bond between Africa and (Isreal-Palestine), because there were earlier bonding events. The story Joseph and Moses (between 1886 and 1446 BC); and the story of Baby Jesus being hidden in Egypt around the year 4 BC (in the Gospel of Mathew: Chapter 2 verses 13-23): It says: “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream â”€ ‘Get up’, he said, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him”.
Even for the Moslem religion, in the year 622AD, Prophet Mohammed had to flee from Arabia to Ethiopia. Then there is the famous story of the Queen of Sheba which is found in the Book of 1 Kings: Chapter 10 verses 1-13: It says: “when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship with the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan – with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold and precious stones – she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon she was overwhelmed. She said to the king, “the report I had heard in my country about your achievements and your wisdom is true but I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes.”
The Entebbe rescue operation of 1976 is yet another bond between the two areas growing out of adversity. Your brother Jonathan, some Israeli hostages and some Ugandan soldiers were killed here on that night of the 4th of July, 1976.
Fortunately, the rescue mission succeeded and the innocent civilians were rescued. Our Movement of NRM, is a Liberation Movement. Liberation Movements only fight for just causes and never use terrorist methods. Therefore, for us, when it comes to which war to fight, it is both about the cause and the method. Even if a fighter has a just cause to fight for, he or she should distil his/her methods. Indiscriminate use of violence is criminal. Why target civilians and non-combatants? Even soldiers, when they are not armed, should not be attacked. It is cowardice and criminal to do so. Targeting non-combatants, marks the boundary between freedom fighters and terrorists even when the cause is justified.
In the matter of the Israel-Palestine area, we in Uganda are guided by the Bible. In chapter 11 of the Book of Genesis verse 31: “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot and his daughter in-law, Sarai, wife of his son, Abram and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan but when they came to Haraan, they settled there.” Abraham came from Ur (Mesopotamia) and settled in Harran â”€ Canaan. This is estimated to have been in the year 2081BC.
There were other tribes in that area such as: Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, etc. Besides, there is the story of the two wives of Abraham: Shaara and Hagara â”€ in the Book of Genesis: Chapter 21 and verses 9-13: It says: “and Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking wherefore she said unto Abraham, cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac and the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son; and God said unto Abraham, let it not be grievous in thy sight because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called; and also the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because He is thy seed.”
We hear that Jews came from Shaara and Arabs came from Hagara. Therefore, we in Uganda cannot accept the bigotry that holds that either of you does not belong to that area. The Romans upset the equilibrium by dispersing the Jews in the year 70AD. Thereafter, the Jews suffered endless privations being victims of all sorts of hoodlums such as Hitler, until the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
The Jewish leaders wisely avoided the British nonsense of proposing to bring you to Uganda because you had no historical claim here. You went to where you had a historical claim â”€ Israel-Palestine. Therefore, rationally, historically and legitimately, the two of you belong to that area. The only way for you and for the world is for the two of you to agree to live side by side in two States â”€ one Jewish and the other one Arab â”€ in peace and with recognized borders. A lot of time has been lost and a lot of trouble has been kicked up, but I do not see any other way.
By the time the Israelis came to rescue the hostages, we had been fighting Idi Amin for six years. We had opposed Amin right from the beginning because, as patriots, we knew that Amin would head in the wrong direction. It is actually Israel and the western countries that had supported Idi Amin. Therefore, Amin’s hobnobbing with the terrorists was a crime in itself. Fortunately, his illiterate Army had no discipline to deploy properly.
Otherwise, it could have been impossible for the lightly armed rescue force to successfully extract the hostages. Amin was wrong to keep the hostages and the Israelis were right to use the incapacity of that army to rescue the innocent hostages. The Palestinians were wrong to target soft-targets, non-combatants, in their fight.
Terrorist methods are wrong, unnecessary and a complicating factor even when the cause is just. I salute the memory of those who died on that occasion on account of the cascades of mistakes by the different actors. I praise the Lord for the lives of those that were rescued. 40 years from the sad events of 1976, that bonding through adversity should be turned into opportunity. Owing to the constant hostility by neighbours, Israel has developed into a high-technology centre. The huge and increasingly populous African continent of 1.25billon people today, 980 million of them living in sub-Sahara Africa, through mutually beneficial arrangements, can take advantage of those scientific achievements for rapid growth. Israeli companies should invest in Africa. Trade between Israeli, Africa and third party markets is also potentially beneficial. Then tourism. In summary, the key words are: investments, trade, tourism, technological co-operation and security (ITTTS). All of us would benefit.
Down with terrorism, long live the freedom of all the peoples of the world and justice to all the peoples.
By Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda.