In a historic ceremony on Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, gathered at Entebbe to commemorate Israel’s 1976 hostage rescue there. Musevini not only commended Israel for carrying out the raid—despite the fact that IDF commandos killed a number of Ugandan soldiers—but compared it with various events in the Bible and even with a passage from the Quran. Speaking of his hopes for warm relations with the Jewish state, Musevini added that “on the issue of Israel/Palestine, we in Uganda are guided by the Bible.” Dror Eydar points to some important lessons Israeli diplomats can learn from this speech:
Museveni used Abraham’s two wives, Sarah the matriarch of the Jews and Hagar the matriarch of the Muslims, to propose a solution for the conflict between [Israel] and the Arabs. Both peoples, he said, belong to the region. He asserted that attempts to compare Israel with South Africa under apartheid rule were nonsense, that the two countries had “totally different stories,” and offered his services as a go-between on the mission to achieve peace.
The same parts of Israeli media (and politics) that are devoid of knowledge of Jewish texts and religious issues scorned what looked like a mixture of politics and myth. . . .
But anyone who is well-versed in our people’s ancient knowledge and spirit realizes the great potential that lies before Israeli statesmen (and also people in trade) if they appeal to religion as a source of common ground with their counterparts abroad. Israel’s renewing of its relations with African nations is a crucial historic event that could help break down the diplomatic wall that Israel’s enemies have worked to build around it. The Israelis came [primarily to commemorate the raid at] Entebbe, but the president of Uganda and many Africans along with him saw the representatives of the historic Jewish people, the people of the Bible. Only a blind person could miss this opportunity.