In perhaps the strangest presidential speeches equivalent to none yet in recent times, President Museveni caused diplomatic distress among his and visiting officials when he repeatedly referred to Israel as 'Palestine' – their sworn and long time border enemy.
Museveni was addressing Israeli and Ugandan officials at Entebbe airport to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Israel raid to rescue their citizens from hijackers in 1976.
Museveni appeared to be reading from a written speech, and, was seemingly unaware, or if aware; failed to appreciate the strained relationship between the two countries - Israel and Palestine. His speech was described by some online commentators as the “most insane thing ever”.
After recognizing present diplomats and officials from both the Ugandan and Israel sides, Museveni began;
…I want to thank him [Benjamin Netenyahu] for turning this sad story 40 years ago into yet another instrument of bonding the holy land Israel-Palestine with the heartland of land in particular and Africa in general”, he said.
He continued: “The sad event, 40 years ago turned into another bond linking Palestine to Africa. I say this is yet another bond between Africa and Palestine because there were earlier bonding events. The story of Joseph and Moses between 1886BC and 1446BC. You remember that story of Joseph? It was also a sad story but it also created a bond just like this one here.
And then there is a story of baby Jesus being hidden in Egypt, I don’t know which year! Because they say he was hidden there in the book of Mathew 2:13-23. He was hidden there from Herod. Herod, Herod was a bad gentleman or something like that. Now, my people here wrote 4AD but I’m reluctant to read it because how could he be 4AD when he had just been born. There must be…I need to do more research on the year. But the story in the book of Mathew says that baby Jesus was hidden in Egypt from Herod. So that is another bond”
Museveni continued: “Another bond between Africa and Palestine but borne out of sad circumstances. Even for the Moslem religion in the year 622AD, Prophet Mohammed had to flee from Arabia to Ethiopia. So again the bonding between the Middle East Palestine and Africa in sad circumstances but it is a bond. Then there is the famous story of the queen of Sheebah which is caused in the book of Kings Chapter 10:1-13. The Entebbe rescue mission of 1976 is therefore 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...”
Throughout the embarrassing speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be seen smiling sheepishly while some members of his delegation could seen murmuring between themselves.
Online reactions to the gaffe.
Watched the speech, couldn't help but wonder what was going through the guests' minds