Mazel tov to Michael Oren, who will be appointed Israel’s new ambassador to the United States. It is hard to imagine a better choice. Michael is a superb historian and strategic analyst; I can’t praise highly enough his Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present. His insights on military topics are informed by his own service in the Israel Defense Forces; he was on the front lines during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
He is also also a gifted communicator, both oral and written. I remember running into Michael in northern Israel in the summer of 2006 while the war with Hezbollah was raging. Israel’s communications strategy at that point left much to be desired, while Hezbollah was all too effective in getting its warped narrative across. The leading Israeli government spokesmen were no match for this reservist wearing a mismatched uniform who made the case for the country and its armed forces with eloquence, vigor, and precision. If anyone can present Israel’s case at a time when the new administration seems to be toying with an opening to Hamas, it is Michael. Kudos to Bibi Netanyahu (another fluent English speaker) for selecting precisely the right man for this challenging assignment.