Jewish Journal


Best-for-Israel President? Our Factor panel has the answer

by Shmuel Rosner

November 3, 2012 | 11:34 am

L-R: George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. (Reuters)

In our pre-election survey of the Israel Factor, we asked an unusual question that we found suitable for Election Day eve. “On a scale of 1 (bad for Israel) to 10 (great for Israel), please rank the following past presidents in retrospect”.

Take a look at the outcome, followed by a couple of clarifications and comments:


Only two former presidents scored a 10: Ronald Reagan from one panelist and Lyndon Johnson from two. Reagan is the biggest surprise here. I would not have assumed that he’d end up being the third “best” president, ahead of Bush II. Only two former presidents got a 2 – each from one panelist: Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. Two got a 3 – each from one panelist: George W. Bush and Gerald Ford. President Obama was not included in this survey question. He is not (yet?) a former president.

Judging by the answers we got for this question, Bill Clinton has been the best president for Israel since Kennedy (we did not include Eisenhower and Truman in this survey). He got a 9 from almost all the panelists. Johnson got higher marks, except for one 6 that ruined it for him. I’d have to ask the panelist in question why he thought Johnson was not as good as most other panelists believe. Carter got one 9 and one 8. The results would have been different, I assume, if we’d asked different questions, such as who was the best-for-Israel president ever, or, please list the names of the three best-ever presidents for Israel.

Bottom line: Israelis – experts included – do not have much adoration for presidents who tend to pick fights with the Israeli government. They prefer presidents who find a way to converse and coordinate with the Israeli government in a civil manner. Twenty years down the road then, first-term Obama wouldn't be likely to get the approval of this panel. But there might well be a second term, so who knows what could happen.


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Check out Rosner's new book, The Jewish Vote: Obama vs. Romney / A Jewish Voter's Guide

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