His Last Public Words: 'I am a Jew, First of All'
Ariel Sharon met with participants of MASA, a program that brings young Jews to Israel from other countries, in what MASA says was his last public appearance, on January 1, 2006.
Videotape of the encounter, which took place during the Hanukkah holiday, shows an alert and smiling Sharon, speaking from the depth of his heart to youths about the national values that he believed in.
"Israel is the only place in the world where Jews have the right and the power to defend themselves, by themselves,” Sharon told his guests. “And as a Jew – and I am first of all a Jew, and that is the most important thing for me – I know that it is not only the only place in the world where we have the right and the power to defend ourselves by ourselves; it's also our duty.”
"I think that each of us is responsible for the future of the Jewish people,” he added. “Our people has existed for about 4,000 years now. And I worry about what will happen in 30 years' time, in 300 years' time, and with G-d's help, in 3,000 years' time. And I don't see it as my personal responsibility, but it is the responsibility of each of you. That's what you have to feel. And that's what we owe to our fathers and forefathers, in order to be able to ensure that the Jewish people will exist.”
Three days after the meeting with MASA, on January 4, 2006, Sharon suffered a massive stroke and he went into a coma, from which he never recovered.