Frank: Netanyahu leading tense Israel in wrong direction

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a dangerous man in a dangerous part of the world. With his upcoming address to the United States Congress on Tuesday March 3, it is important for the American public to know whom they are dealing with. Israel has shown that is not the freedom-loving, peaceful state that it so often claims to be.

During Netanyahu’s time in the Israeli Defense Force, thousands upon thousands of Arabs and U.S. sailors were killed in Israeli land-grabbing wars. During the War of Attrition from 1969-1970, Israel responded to Egyptians invading the Sinai Peninsula—land that was historically Arab—by using disproportionate force compared to what the Egyptians were using.

Netanyahu is still using this tactic today during the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. During Operation Protective Edge—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of summer 2014—Palestinian militants used rockets that cost about $800 each to attack Israeli cities near the Gazan border. In response, the IDF used rocket interceptors that cost up to $3 million each. As a result, the Palestinian economy took a multi-billion dollar hit and nearly a quarter of the housing in Gaza was destroyed.

Israel has every right to defend itself, just like the U.S. and Palestine do. What it doesn’t have the right to do is to persecute civilians. The Israelis control what comes in and out of Gaza and the West Bank—and what comes in is very limited. Israel claims this is acceptable because the Palestinian land is theirs. By extension, that would mean the people living on those lands are Israelis. Denying this large sector of a population adequate water and electricity may be a human rights violation, especially considering the standard of living in cities like Tel Aviv.

If we accept Israel’s land claims, Israel is attacking its own people by attacking the citizens of Gaza—a clear violation of the Geneva Convention. This is what Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein did to their people, albeit to a much greater extent in those cases.

Still, the U.S. continues to financially support Israel, sending about $3 billion in military aid per year to help a country occupy foreign territory. Despite this, Netanyahu continues to criticize the U.S. and is responsible for a recent breakdown in relations between the two countries—much more so than U.S. President Barack Obama. After Israel broke an internationally brokered ceasefire during Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu told the Obama administration “not to ever second guess me again” on Hamas—the democratically elected majority party in Gaza.

Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress to warn the U.S. of an Iranian nuclear threat. If this sounds familiar, it’s because he made a statement to world leaders in 2012 claiming that Iran was a year away from making nuclear weapons. This contradicted what his top intelligence officers knew, according to a Mossad document leaked on Monday Feb. 23. Netanyahu has claimed––as recently as 2014––that Iran is a greater threat than the Islamic State. He may be the last person on earth that feels this way as IS makes the news daily with new kidnappings and brutal killings.

Israel has long been an ally of the U.S. since its creation after World War II. Now, things have changed and Israel has become a dangerous state that violates the Geneva Convention daily. It is imperative that the American people understand that the country that is addressing them on Tuesday is not the ideal, freedom-loving state that it claims to be.