The Israel Uganda Connection: ‘Never Again’ or ‘We Did not Know?’

B’Vakashah, which is it going to be?

by Melanie Nathan, Dec 13, 2011

Rumor has it that former minister and Israeli career politician Rafael “Rafi” Eitan, now 85 years of age, is trying to do business in Uganda, seeking to start an agricultural enterprise. I wonder if Eitan knows that Ugandans are currently ‘scape-goating’ gays, lesbians and transgender people in the same manner as Hitler did the Jews in Germany during the rise of the Nazi Party.

While the analogy may sound incomparable, it always is before the start of a holocaust; but the potential for genocide cannot be overlooked if we are to learn from lessons past. While the number of gays in Africa may not mirror the number of Jews in Europe, the pretext, the building principle and ultimate philosophy remain the same.  The result is obvious.

Uganda is sitting on the edge of passage of what has become known as the “Kill-the-Gays-Bill.  The Anti-homosexuality Bill is legislation currently on the Ugandan Parliament floor, introduced by MP David Bahati and it  prescribes death in certain circumstances for the “crime” of homosexuality. In other circumstances, imprisonment,and it also includes incarceration for those who “harbor”  by failing to report a known homosexuals, be it a friend, a co-worker, a sibling or a parent.

I am sure that Mr. Eitan’s is smart enough to know and realize the science;  the evidence that sexuality, whether straight or gay,  is a natural born orientation.

To do business with a state about to implement laws that in essence provide government with a license to kill a minority is inexcusable. I know Mr. Eitan is not the only one on the verge of a deal, and I have chosen him for the purpose of this piece to illustrate my point and because he is high profile.

And so I ask Mr. Rafi Eitan, a man from my own tribe,  ‘B’Vakashah,’ Mr. Eitan, please answer this question: “Do you know you are about to do business with a regime that could feasibly start sentencing gay people to death, simply for being gay?  If the answer is “yes,” sir, I implore you to desist; and if the answer is “I do not know” – then Sir, I implore you to question yourself about all those whom you chastised back in the 1940’s and thereafter who said “we did not know!”



Eitan is an Israeli politician and former intelligence officer. Today he leads Gil and is a former Minister of Pensioner Affairs. In the past, he was in charge of the Mossad operation that led to the capture of Adolf Eichmann. He served as an advisor on terrorism to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and in 1981 he was appointed to head the Bureau of Scientific Relations, then an intelligence entity on par with Mossad, Aman and Shabak. Eitan assumed responsibility for and resigned over the Jonathan Pollard affair, and the Bureau was disbanded. From 1985 until 1993, he was head of the government’s Chemicals company, which was expanded under his leadership. After 1993, he became a businessman, noted for several large scale agricultural and construction ventures in Cuba.

Eitan was born in kibbutz Ein Harod during the Mandate era. His parents were Zionist immigrants from Russia in 1923. His father Noach Hantman was a farmer and poet and his mother Yehudit Volwelsky, a social activist. They had four children, Rafi, Oded, Rina and Ami(Yechiam) and lived happily in Ramat HaSharon, a small settlement consisting of 100 families. Eitan went to a regular junior high public school, but finished his high school at the Agricultural School in Givat HaShlosha in 1940 before going to the London School of Economics for his BSc in Economics.

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Disclosure:  I am a Jew, known for my unconditional support of Israel;  I am writing this piece as an LGBTI activist in the region of Africa.

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