NIF chair appeals for calm over flotilla

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2010
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The chairman of the New Israel Fund UK has told supporters to ignore extremist views on both sides of the Middle East debate, and expressed his sadness at the lack of understanding from both sides.

In an email sent to NIF supporters, chair Nicholas Saphir wrote: "We are all stunned and saddened by the tragic deaths and injuries to civilian activists and Israeli soldiers."

He added: "We need to remember that we are blessed to live in comparative safety, whereas Israel is in constant threat from those who are openly committed to its destruction."

NIF has previously come under fire, particularly from Israeli right-wing movement Im Tirzu, for giving information to the UN Goldstone Report into Operation Cast Lead and for supporting IDF soldiers' group Breaking the Silence, whose soldiers have spoken out against IDF commanders.

Mr Saphir attacked the "saddening and disturbing" faction in pro-Israel support where "this discussion has become a black-or-white issue with no room for shades of grey."

He said: "The language used is polarising… there is a disquieting lack of charity in understanding the other point of view."

Mr Saphir concluded: "I would say that this is precisely the time to strengthen and deepen our commitment to the cause."

    Last updated: 1:00pm, June 10 2010