The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni on Thursday evening joined the Israelis and their many friends in Uganda at the Kampala Serena Hotel for the double celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the Independence of the State of Israel and the 60th anniversary of MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Cooperation).
“Both of these are significant historical events, and on behalf of His Excellency the President of Uganda and the people of Uganda, and on my own behalf, I extend our warmest congratulations to the people and the State of Israel on having reached these landmarks”, Janet Museveni who was Guest of Honour at the occasion said.
Mrs. Museveni, who also celebrated her 70th Birthday on Sunday 24th June with a lot of gratitude to God for the gift of life, said it is a happy coincidence that she shares a birthday with the State of Israel.
She said that Uganda’s relationship with the State of Israel is significant and Uganda can emulate and learn a lot from Israel’s resilient spirit, remarkable work ethic and their capacity to defend and guard their independence and survive against great odds.
She also said she admires and congratulates Israel on the strides it has made in terms of technological development which has turned their naturally harsh environment into a self-sufficient “Garden of Eden”, and Ugandans can also learn from this.
Mrs. Museveni pointed out that Israel’s Judeo-Christian heritage has greatly influenced and impacted the morality, ethics and philosophy of the world systems in terms of the concepts of government, justice, politics and international relations. She added that the world owes a great deal to the people of Israel for this important role the ancient nation of Israel has played in shaping the thinking of the modern world.
The First Lady said Uganda owes a debt of gratitude to the State of Israel for the rich and profitable relationship that exists between the two countries and thanked the generosity of Israel through MASHAV that enables young Ugandans train and gain skills in the field of agriculture. She added that the Ministry of Education and Sports has also benefited from a specialized instructors’ training by MASHAV experts and is right now in the process of finalizing a TVET MOU which will guide this training partnership.
She prayed that many more Ugandans continue to benefit from such training and also go to Israel for the Agro-studies program because it is essential for the development of our young nation.
She assured the Israel Ambassador that the NRM Government and the people of Uganda will continue to do everything possible to strengthen the friendship between the two countries.
His Excellence Noah Gal Gendler, the Ambassador of Israel to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Seychelles said that it is good that the relationship of Israel and Uganda, which was close and warm between October 1962 and 1971 and was spoiled by Idi Amin Dada when he cut the diplomatic relations, have been revived since 1994.
He reported that today Israel is involved in humanitarian activities in Uganda and very soon they will support building the intensive care unit at Mulago hospital. He also said that so far 220 Ugandan students have benefited from the Israel Agro-Studies one-year programme and this is the largest number of students in Africa and in the world. “At the end of the year, these participants come to Uganda with initial capital to start a business and excellent knowledge of modeling agriculture.
He thanked Uganda for assisting Israel in their quest to rise and regain their glory in the African Union. He said that at the end of 2017 Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Museveni agreed to strengthen the economic relationship. “We are organizing a business and investment forum, the first of its kind, by the end of November”.
He said that the State of Israel will soon start working on a number of economic agreements, financial protocols, taxation, cooperation in government, agriculture and others. He added that Israel plans to promote the Old Airport in Entebbe (where the Operation Thunderbolt mission carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces successful rescued terrorist hostages at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4th July 1976) as a tourism destination for not only Israelis but people from allover the world. They also want to introduce direct flights between Israel and Uganda.
Ambassador Gendler congratulated MASHAV on the 60 years of success, professionalism and devotion to capacity building for people in over 140 countries.
The occasion was also graced by the Ambassadors of America, Sweden, Germany, Burundi, the British High Commissioner, member of the Diplomatic corps, MPs, Pastors and Christian friends, Government officials and the MASHAV alumni among others.
Pastor Robert Kayanja thanked God for Israel’s 70th Independence anniversary and prayed for it to continue growing. Irene Nabbumba a MASHAV Alumni relayed her 2017 experience in Israel as a beneficiary student of the MASHAV and the guests were shown a documentary about operations of the MASHAV. They were also entertained by beautiful melodies of Ugandan children from the Imani Milele Band who also sang for Maama Janet the Happy Birthday song for her 70th Birthday.