Two years ago, I announced at the GA Conference that I had a dream that every Jew would visit Jerusalem at least once, and that I believe that we must set the goal that every Jewish youngster would live here for at least one year during their lifetime.
Today, we launch the Masa project. Today, we are taking a giant step towards realizing that dream. Today, we are taking a giant step towards the time when living in Israel for a period of time will be an inseparable part of the life of every Jewish youngster around the world, just as the land of Israel is an inseparable part of our identities as Jews.
I am a Jew, and for me, being a Jew is the most important thing. I view it as my personal responsibility, as a Jew and as Prime Minister of the Jewish state, to ensure the future of the Jewish people for the next thirty years, the next 300 years, and G-d willing, the next 3,000 years. The Masa Project is part of the actualization of the State of Israel's commitment to the future of the Jewish people. It is a mission which the Government of Israel, every government - today and in the future must see as one of its most important goals.
The Philistines and the Romans are ancient history. However, the descendants of King David's warriors established Kibbutz Beit Guvrin here behind you 56 years ago, where there is an advanced factory producing polymers used in various industries. In the area surrounding us, there are vines which produce excellent wines, and wineries which preserve historical Biblical names, such as Tzora and Kela David. Located approximately 10 kilometers from here is the Intel Factory in Kiryat Gat, where the descendants of Bar Kochba's warriors produce the advanced processors found in millions of computers worldwide. On this land, where the kings and prophets walked, today walk scientists and writers, inventors and industrialitsts, members of the military, and farmers. This is the uniqueness of the Land of Israel - it has a glorious past, a promising present, and together with you, a bright future.
Out of the hundreds of students who are here, such as Rina Goldberg from Canada and Olga Zayetzevah from Belarus who study at the Hebrew University, will certainly emerge the best scientists and Nobel Laureates of the future. The future leaders of Israel and the Diaspora will emerge from your ranks, such as Robin, who spoke here earlier, and immediately following this event will fly back to the United States to be a counselor at a Jewish summer camp. From your ranks will emerge the mutual guarantee between all sectors of the Jewish nation, which finds expression in the adoption of the children's house in Netanya by the pupils of the "Shalem" group of Young Judea, and in the work with children suffering with head injuries in Kfar Maccabiah, which the pupils of "World Maccabi" from Latin America overtook. And you, Tal Avneri, who flies every week from Kibbutz Ktora in the Arava to Metullah in order to participate in ice hockey practice- perhaps, thank you to you, Israel, which has already established its standing as a powerhouse in European basketball and Judo, will excel in this sport as well.
The possibilities open to you in Israel today are limitless.
I am very pleased that you chose to participate in this journey (Masa). I am certain that, for most of you, this will be the most important journey of your lives. I hope to see you all here, with us, in the State of Israel. This is the most important thing we need. If, in the meantime, you choose not to make Aliyah...I hope you wil decide to make Aliyah, but if in the meanwhile you decide not to make Aliyah, I hope to see you as activists and community leaders. I believe that the Masa Project will grow and succeed, and I hope to see in the future, tens and hundreds of thousands of young Jews journey to their land - a journey in Israel.
And remember - we need you, all of you. We always did. Today, we need you more than ever. More than ever.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was central in the founding of Masa Israel Journey and presented these remarks at Masa Israel's launching event in 2005.