On Sunday, May 19, the Department for Diaspora Activity of the World Zionist Organization inaugurated "Beit Ha'Am - Marom" a unique community center in Uganda. The center is named after Yoni Netanyahu z"l, H'yd, who died July 4,1976, during "Operation Entebbe." Also known as, the Israel Defense Force's "Operation Thunderbolt," the mission was to rescue 106 hostages held in the Uganda airport. The mostly Israeli hostages were in danger, separated from other passengers and detained, from the Air France plane hijacked by PFLP terrorists. Yoni Netanyahu z"l was the only military fatality, during the daring night time raid on enemy territory 2,500 miles from Israel, during which 102 hostages were saved.
"Beit Ha'Am - Marom" was built in Uganda's capital, Kampala. It will serve as a home for Jewish prayer, study and creation of a young Jewish community for "Abayudea" youth and other Jewish residents in Kampala.
During the journey in Uganda, the delegation visited the Abayudea villages and met with members of the community. The delegation participated in a festive Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast, honored by Mrs. Janet Museveni, Uganda's first lady.
Head of the Department for Diaspora Activity in the World Zionist Organization, Gusti Yehoshua Braverman led the Israeli delegation, and stated; "After a fascinating journey to the villages of the Ugandan Abayudaya Jewish community, I am now even more convinced that what we are doing here today is the right thing. I believe that our mission in the National Institutions and particularly in the Department for Diaspora Affairs is to reach out, create a genuine dialogue and by that, to empower Jewish communities all over the world. It is a great privilege for me to inaugurate this brand new Beit Ha'Am-Marom and to help strengthening the connection between the Abayudaya young adults and the state of the Jewish people/"
Dr. Ido Netanyahu, brother of Yoni Netanyahu Z"l , spoke at the dedication ceremony: "It is not easy being a Jew. This is true everywhere, including Israel. For reasons which this is not the occasion to discuss, we Jews, all too often it appears, are a target for seemingly every malcontent individual or political movement. Now, simply being born a Jew takes no courage at all. It’s happenstance. But it takes great courage to actively decide to be a member of the Jewish People. The Abayudaya people felt that despite all the hardships involved, there was great moral and spiritual benefit to being a Jew. President Museveni once said that when he and his men were in the jungle fighting Idi Amin and his army, the news of Operation Entebbe gave them a tremendous boost. It is therefore all the more fitting that the name of Yoni – who led the force of the Unit and who himself saw the raid as a fight for the sake of the Uganda People and against the genocidal Idi Amin – that his name is henceforth borne by this Jewish center at the heart of Uganda’s capital."