PM visits Rwanda, meeting with President Kagame and attending ceremony in memory of Rwandan Genocide; Netanyahu: We’re determined to work together in so many fields to secure a future of security, prosperity and peace for all our peoples.
Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Rwanda on Wednesday ahead of his final stop in Ethiopia as part of his four-day Africa tour.
Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, their meeting focused on “increasing bilateral cooperation in various fields including military and security, energy, infrastructures, cyber, agriculture and water,” signing bilateral agreements including a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in innovation, research and development, and tourism.
The Prime Minister and his wife also participated in a ceremony at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in remembrance of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, in which over 1 million Tutsis were murdered. The Prime Minister and his wife, Sara, signed the memorial’s guest book “We are deeply moved by the memorial to the victims of one history’s greatest crimes – and reminded of the haunting similarities to the genocide of our own people. Never again.”
In a joint press conference with Kagame following the ceremony, Netanyahu spoke of correlation between the Holocaust and Rwandan Genocide, efforts to increase Israel-Rwanda relations, as well as both states commitment and unity to “fight against terrorism that threatens us all.”
“We went through this morning, through an exceptional memorial, exceptionally moving, jolting even- to see the pictures of children, sometimes babies, their briefest life stories put before us. Families that were cut down by neighbors, murdered by people that lived next to them all their lives and the haunting evocations of your tragedy with our tragedy.
My people know the pain of genocide as well, and this is a unique bond that neither one of our peoples would prefer to have. Yet, we both persevered despite the pain, despite the horror, we never lost hope and you never lost hope. Today, Israel and Rwanda are successful states and models for progress. We have learned, both of our peoples, I think, a valuable lesson from our tragic past.
We have learned, both our peoples, I think a valuable lesson from our tragic pasts: Genocide is preceded by incitement to mass murder. Words matter. They have the power to kill. And broadcast words, whether on the radio or now through other means, they have the power to kill even further. In Rwanda, radio broadcasts dehumanized people long before they were slaughtered. You asked for those broadcasts to be stopped as part of your battle against genocide, and you were unsuccessful.
The Nazis too began dehumanizing Jews long before they started murdering millions of our people. So today, when we see leaders in Gaza calling for the murder of every Jew around the world, we all have a duty to speak out. When we hear the Supreme Leader of Iran calling for the annihilation of Israel, we have a duty to speak out. We have a duty to alert the world to the danger of these hateful words.
Mr. President, this the first lesson we learned, but we learned another one and that in difficult times, we must be able to defend ourselves by ourselves. In Rwanda, UN peacekeepers failed to keep the peace. They not only failed to keep the peace, they failed to respond to urgent calls for salvation against an impending genocide. They ran away. We cannot, neither one of us, outsource our safety and our security.
Mr. President, I’m in Africa because it is a continent on the rise, and because it hasn’t always gotten the attention it deserves, at least not from Israel. But it does now, and I value deeply your willingness to assist us, along with other leaders in this historic summit that we had in Uganda. I’m excited about the future of your country, the future of your continent. I was impressed with the construction that has taken place. Driving to the airport here, and you showed me the place of the worst destruction and the worst, the greatest tragedies that occurred to you right here in Kigali, and you see how speedily you brought life back in and it reminds me very much of our own experience.
We are also united in our fight against terrorism that threatens us all. We’re determined to work together in so many fields to secure a future of security, prosperity and peace for all our peoples.
I look forward to deepening our friendship and I thank you again for your warm hospitality and for your personal friendship. Thank you.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu will end his Africa tour in Ethiopia on Thursday.