On the eve of a European Parliament debate on the Goldstone Report, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin warned its 736 MEPs on Tuesday against “allowing Goldstone’s new morality to take over international law.”
European Parliament President Jezy Buzek said the debate was a sign of his institutions growing interest in the Middle East.
"The European Union wants to be a player [in the Middle East] and we are doing it very seriously," said Buzek on Tuesday at a press conference in Brussels.
Related: UN revives Goldstone with extensions
"Tomorrow we will discuss the Goldstone Report, the next signal that the European parliament and institutions are interested in solving the Middle East problem," said Buzek.
At the request of the European Green Party, the parliament in Brussels will discuss the UN report prepared by South African jurist Richard Goldstone and two associates, which accused the IDF of possible war crimes during last winter’s Gaza offensive.
“According to Goldstone’s standards, Winston Churchill himself should have been placed in the defendant’s seat as a war criminal, as would American and British generals who have killed thousands in Iraq,” Rivlin said. “In the meantime, it is Israel alone that pays the price of the double standard, which does not differentiate between the victim and the attacker or between terror and self-defense. If the trend is not changed, next in line will be British and American military personnel, and those of the rest of the free world.”
Rivlin spoke during a series of lectures presented to more than six dozen senior foreign embassy personnel and military attachés in the Knesset.
He warned that the “new and crooked morality will usher in a new era in Western civilization, similar to the one that we remember from the  Munich agreement, which allowed a dictatorship to spill the blood of the free world, and almost brought about its defeat.”
The world’s response to Operation Cast Lead through the Goldstone Report proved that terrorists had succeeded in paralyzing democracy in its struggle against terrorism, Rivlin said.
“The Goldstone Report is a warning light to other democracies,” the Knesset speaker said. “If now, as a collective, the countries of the free world do not oppose the report, if they do not stand behind Israel in her just and ethical fight against spreading terror, if they do not stop the attacks and incitement against Israel and continue to sit passively, the legitimacy will be pulled out from under their struggles as well. For you, too, someday, there will be someone who doubts your democratic rule, or tries to tie your hands behind your back when you try to defend your wives and children.”
Dutch MEP Bastiaan Belder told MK Nachman Shai (Kadima), the head of the Israeli Parliamentary Delegation to the EU Parliament, of the upcoming hearing last week. Belder was visiting with a delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee for Relations with Israel.
“Last week, when the EU delegation was here, we prepared them thoroughly for the hearing,” Shai said.
The 15-member delegation met with an IDF expert on international law and with Noam Schalit, father of abducted soldier Gilad Schalit, and visited the border crossings to Gaza, as well as the security fence around the Strip.
In Jerusalem, the group met Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the UN and currently president of The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who gave the Europeans a presentation on the Goldstone Report. (In November, Gold debated Goldstone on the report, at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.)
“We see this group as the spearhead, but it is difficult to predict what will be in the parliamentary debate,” Shai said. “The situation changes very quickly. What is clear is that the Palestinians are not giving up. They’ve started a new effort to revive the Goldstone Report in the UN, pushing it forward. Every hearing in an international body is problematic, because it keeps the report afloat.”
The Goldstone Report was prepared for the United Nations. But Daniel Marc Cohn-Bendit, co-president of the European Greens-European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, said it should be debated by that body as well.
Cohn-Bendit’s parents were German Jews who fled Nazi Germany. He said
human rights issues in Europe and around the world were very important
both to him and to his party and should be debated in the European
Parliament. It was important to examine the Gaza war, and the Goldstone
document was the only report that would allow them to do that, the
Frankfurt resident said.
He understood that Israel believed the report was flawed.
“It is possible that the report is not the right report, but you cannot
dismiss it because you do not like what it says. You and I know that
there were a lot of problems in this war on both sides. We should talk
about it. If Israel has another report, give it to us,” Cohn-Bendit
He said he had been very clear with respect to his stance on Israel.
“Israel is losing its soul in the occupation. You have to stop the occupation,” he said.