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    Morning Reception at the Residence of the Australian Ambassador

    Some seventy IBCA members enjoyed poolside refreshments and a fascinating talk by the Australian Ambassador, HE Dave Sharma at his beautiful residence on April 4th.

    Greer Fay Cashman's wrote in the Jerusalem Post:

    THE ISRAEL Britain and the Commonwealth Association is gearing up for next year's centenary celebration of the Balfour Declaration, in which it was stated that "His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

    At the same time, the Australian Embassy is gearing up to celebrate the centenary of the victory of the Australian Light Horse in the Battle of Beersheba, which preceded the Balfour Declaration by two days. In fact, the text of the declaration was being drafted by the British war cabinet while the battle was going on, Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma told an IBCA gathering at his residence in Herzliya Pituah this week, adding that the implementation of the Balfour Declaration depended on the defeat of the Ottoman forces. There was so much interest in hearing what the erudite and eloquent Sharma had to say that attendance was far in excess of what was anticipated. Sharma later told this columnist that either the Australian governor-general or the prime minister would come to Israel for the Battle of Beersheba centenary, which also celebrates the long relationship between Israel and Australia. The Battle of Beersheba was central to Gen. Allenby's Palestine campaign to break the Ottoman hold on the Middle East, said Sharma, and as such has become an enduring legacy. The dominant features of the Middle East for thousands of years have been empire and religion, he stated, and the idea of a nation state is still a relatively new concept in the Middle East, and is therefore under strain.

    Israel has a strong history and tradition as a nation state. Even though statehood was interrupted, he said, strong cohesion remained among the Jewish people. Sharma also made the point that there is a disconnect between how Israelis view themselves and how Israel is viewed by the rest of the world. Sharma impressed his guests with his vast knowledge of the history and geopolitics of the region, and unhesitatingly answered a barrage of questions that had little to do with the original topic of his address. When IBCA vice chairman Sam Lewis was called upon to give the vote of thanks, Sharma wished him wLewis reminded Sharma that the word "commonwealth" is in IBCA's title and that Australia is part but of the commonwealth, but there is a dearth of Australians and New Zealanders in IBCA's membership, even though IBCA representatives participated in Anzac Day and Battle of Beersheba commemorations.

    The cry for Australian and New Zealand immigrants to join IBCA was echoed by IBCA chairman Alex Deutsch.