THE conflict between Hamas and Israel last year has left a mark on the family of Australia’s ambassador to Israel.
Dave Sharma told more than 200 people at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre in Melbourne on Tuesday night that young children seem to cope better than teenagers and adults when they are evacuated to bomb shelters because they don’t understand the situation, but that doesn’t mean it is any easier.
“It seems like water off a duck’s back at the time, but then something happens and you realise it left an impact,” Sharma said.
“My wife is up on the Sunshine Coast at the moment with her mum’s family and she sent me some photos of the kids running on the beach and my six-year-old said ‘at least there is not bombs on the beach’, because she remembers having to evacuate from the beach because of a rocket during the conflict.
“Things like that happen and you realise that it has left an impact.”
But he said he doesn’t regret staying during the conflict and on two occasions noted that he was there for every day of the 51-day war.
“I’m glad we stayed because it is part of the Israeli experience.
“We got off lightly because we weren’t in the periphery around Gaza, didn’t have loved ones serving in the IDF and could leave if we wanted to.”
Sharma said his children learn Hebrew and attend Jewish classes every week so they come home asking him to dress up for Purim and build a succah for Succot.
“We feel very much embraced because the holidays aren’t closed affairs and everyone wants to welcome you into their homes and share the experience with you.”
He said that he has gained a greater understanding of the value of customs and traditions.
“I didn’t have that in my own upbringing, and you realise it is a great way to bring families and communities together.”
Tuesday night’s event was co-hosted by the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Zionist Council of Victoria and the United Israel Appeal.
As well as Melbourne, Sharma who has been Ambassador since August 2013 will be visiting Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra.