Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda since 1986, delivered a warm and sometimes entertaining speech welcoming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to his country today.
Museveni accused Lord Balfour – author of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 – of "ignorance" in calling Uganda the "national home" of the Jewish People. "How can such an ignorant man have been Foreign Minister of Great Britain?" Museveni marveled aloud.
Regrettably and uncomfortably for the Israelis in the audience, and particular Netanyahu, the president made a slight error. The Balfour Declaration stated that a national home should be established for the Jews in what was then Palestine – not Uganda. Museveni's confusion might have stemmed from the fact that some Jewish leaders of the time raised the possibility of building a temporary Jewish state in Uganda.
"Fortunately," the president continued, "the Jews did not accept Balfour's idea – which was a good thing, otherwise we would have been fighting you now." He smiled as he said this, and many in the audience chuckled in kind.
Museveni said that it is clear to him that both the Jews and the Arabs belong in the Middle East, and that he cannot tolerate the "bigotry" that states otherwise. He added that he even told as much to former Iranian President Ahmedinajad – whose name he forgot mid-speech.
"The logical solution is that there must be two states – one Arab, and one Jewish," he said. He added that though he has never been asked to mediate the conflict, he is confident that if asked, he would be able to succeed easily.
The Ugandan leader praised Netanyahu for taking the "sad" episode of the kidnapping of the Israelis 40 years ago and turning it into a link and bond between the two countries.