of young Jews from around the world who have arrived in Israel in the framework of Project Birthright.
Project Birthright is a unique partnership between the people of Israel
through their government, local Jewish communities (North American Jewish
Federations through the United Jewish Communities, Keren Hayesod and The
Jewish Agency for Israel), and leading Jewish philanthropists. Project Birthright provides the gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to
Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26.
Prime Minister Sharon commended the young people regarding their coming to
Israel: “I intend to continue the policy of investing in our younger generation in Israel and in the Diaspora, in order to assure the future of the Jewish people. I am certain that within a few years we will all feel the welcome results of this investment.”
Prime Minister Sharon said: “The students who visit Israel return to their campuses and become the State of Israel’s best information emissaries in the world. Therefore, we decided to considerably increase the Government’s participation in the project to NIS 40 million this year.”
Prime Minister Sharon emphasized the importance of the experience of visiting Israel in strengthening the Jewish identity of Diaspora Jews. He added that the MASA Program – which brings young
people to Israel for longer periods of up to one year – was recently founded.
Prime Minister referred to the refusal issue and said: “I don’t think that a soldier can refuse an order. This would be a serious mistake if a movement arises that supports refusal to carry out an order. The decision regarding
the Disengagement Plan was made democratically by the Government and
approved by a large Knesset majority. I see no justification for refusal, neither by soldiers, nor by political leaders, nor by rabbis. There might
be attempts at refusal but the State of Israel is a democratic country and nation of law, and therefore, we will be insistent. The law will be