Recently, I have seen several commentaries whose topic is something to the effect that United States President Barack Obama is bad for Israel. While I'm not here to defend Obama (or any other politician, for that matter), I do think it's a bit lacking in clarity when people say things like that. It gives the impression that other recent US presidents were "good for Israel".
Were previous US presidents any better for Israel? Let's take a look back and see if that really is the case.
The last US president before Obama was George W. Bush. Many claim that he was one of the greatest friends Israel ever had. However, he spent many years trying to divide up Israel, stating that he alone would decide the borders of Israel. In 2006, he wanted to declare an independent Arab state with provisional borders by the end of 2007. He said he was willing to commit the entire resources of the United States to do it. The state would be headed by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO). It's important to know that Fatah is a terrorist organization, founded by master terrorist Yasir Arafat and current PA/PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas. It is also the ruling party of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), one of the best known terrorist organizations in the world. A sub-group of Fatah is the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group which Bush himself designated as a terrorist organization by presidential directive. In addition, it is on the US State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is responsible for many terrorist attacks, including several involving US citizens. However, Bush was always inclined to look the other way in these matters because he felt these groups would help him fulfill his demonic vision of dividing up Israel in order to create a country for a group of people who don't exist.
When Israel was in the process of wiping out the Hizb'Allah terrorist group in 2006, Bush went along with it for a while. But when it became clear that Israel wasn't doing it fast enough for him, Bush pressured Israel to stop. This not only left Hizb'Allah intact, it also created sympathy for the terrorist group around the world. They are now seen as "freedom fighters", not terrorists. In addition, the group has been embraced by the Lebanese government as an official part of the formal state military.
Bush was also instrumental in the destruction of Gush Katif, causing the removal of 10,000 Jews from their homes and creating a Hamas-controlled terrorist state in Gaza. In addition, he continually placed great pressure on Israel any time a new home was built in Judea and Samaria.
There were many other ways that Bush acted against Israel, among them were the arming and training of PLO terrorists by the US military. (Most of the weapons eventually fell into the hands of Hamas terrorists when they ran the US-trained PA/PLO army out of Gaza.)
Before Bush there was Bill Clinton. He too attempted to create peace between Israel and its Arab enemies by having Israel give away land to its sworn enemies. In one of the infamous Camp David summits, Clinton brought together Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA/PLO Chairman and master terrorist Yasir Arafat. Thankfully, those talks did not work out. However, they did result in the Second Intifada, costing the lives of many innocent Jews.
In addition, Clinton ordered the size of Israel's loan guarantees cut because Israel was building homes for Jewish families on land that the United States had deemed long ago to belong to Israel's enemies, the Arabs (or, better yet, to a non-existent people, the "Palestinians").
Clinton, by the way, was also considered a "great friend of Israel".
Prior to Clinton taking office, Bush's father, George Herbert Walker Bush, was president. In his attempt to form a one world order (which he declared at the United Nations), Bush put together the Madrid Peace Conference in an attempt to give Jewish land to terrorists sworn to wipe the Jewish people off the map. (Bush's henchman in all of this was the infamous anti-Semite James Baker.) As a result of these talks, the PLO was further legitimized (see Reagan below), making it out to be a freedom fighting organization instead of one of the most feared terrorist organizations in all the world.
Bush had no problem in making promises to Israel and, when he didn't like what Israel was doing, breaking those promises. He had tried to blackmail Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir by threatening to withhold loan guarantees if Shamir would stop building in Judea and Samaria. Shamir did not agree and Bush made good on his threat. However, when Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister, he immediately agreed to Bush's demands and the loan guarantees were freed up.
When Bush started the first war against Saddam Hussein, and Scud missiles were raining down upon Israel, instead of offering protection, Bush asked Israel to not retaliate. He knew that if Israel did retaliate, the 22 Arab nations surrounding Israel wound attack it and the UN coalition, led by the US. It's hard to see Bush asking any other nation to just stand there and take it as an enemy fires rockets at its civilians. And there is no other nation that would do it.
Ronald Reagan was president before Bush. He also was considered a "great friend of Israel". However, as he was formalizing strategic cooperation between the Pentagon and the IDF (Israel Defense forces), he was also greatly strengthening the Arabs, sworn enemies of Israel. He sold the Arabs some of the US's most sophisticated weapons, including the AWACS radar planes. The "strategic cooperation" between the Pentagon and the IDF was actually a ruse by Reagan in order to obtain high level intelligence information from Israel it couldn't receive otherwise.
Perhaps it was due to Begin's love of Torah and his leadership in the Irgun, but whatever it was, Reagan never hid his immense dislike for Prime Minister Begin.
In 1981, when Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, Reagan was livid. He had the UN ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, vote to support the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's actions. (Kirkpatrick, however, went one to become one of Israel's staunchest defenders, vetoing many other anti-Israel resolutions.) After the bombing, Reagan suspended the delivery of F-16 jet fighters to Israel.
Further, as Mitchell Bard writes, "While other [US] presidents privately threatened to withhold aid or take other measures against Israel, Reagan did not hesitate to publicly punish Israel. After Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, Reagan suspended the strategic cooperation agreement prompting Begin to accuse Reagan of treating Israel like a 'banana republic'."
Reagan also gave a promise of protection to the PLO leadership, including Yasir Arafat, allowing them to escape to Tunis. In addition, he who authorized the US State Department to enter into talks with the terrorist organization (who had murdered many US civilians). This began the multitude of problems that Israel is still contending with today.
Before Reagan, there was Jimmy carter. I think it's sufficient to just mention his name. His hatred of Israel is very well-known.
As I had previously stated, "the United States has always used Israel as its political tool in the Middle East. It's just that previously it generally chose to be a bit more friendlier as it needed the expertise of Israel's Mossad to inform it of Russian activities. Since the Cold War is over, the relationship has changed." The US no longer feels that it needs Israel, as it has its own quasi-state in Iraq. During his tenure Bush made enough headway with Arabs and Muslims around the world so that they now know that the US government — no matter who is in charge — will sell out Israel.
So, back to our original question. Is Barack Obama bad for Israel? Sure he is, but not any more than any other recent US president. The difference now is that there are mechanizations in place that will propel the "peace talks" further and faster. As Bob Dylan once said, "things should start to get interesting right about now".
One note in closing: it's always in Israel's power to tell the US to back off and decide itself how it will deal with its enemy neighbors. That, however, will take real leadership — something that Israel does not now have and hasn't had for many years.