MICHAEL BORNSTEIN OREN (
Hebrew : מיכאל אורן; born MICHAEL
SCOTT BORNSTEIN; May 20, 1955) is an American-born Israeli historian,
author, politician, former ambassador to the United States
(2009–2013), and current member of the
Knesset for the
and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.
Oren has written books, articles, and essays on Middle Eastern
history , and is the author of the _New York Times_ best-selling
Power, Faith and Fantasy _ and _Six Days of War: June 1967 and the
Making of the Modern Middle East _, which won the _
Los Angeles Times _
History Book of the Year Award and the National Jewish Book Award.
Oren has been a visiting professor at Harvard , Yale , and Georgetown
universities in the
United States and at Tel Aviv and Hebrew
universities in Israel. He was a Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem
Jerusalem and a contributing editor to _
The New Republic _.
_The Forward_ named Oren one of the five most influential American
Jews and _The
Jerusalem Post _ listed him as one of the world’s ten
most influential Jews.
Oren retired as ambassador to the
United States in 2013, replaced by
Ron Dermer . In the 2015 Israeli election , Oren was elected to the
Knesset for the centrist
* 1 Personal life and background
* 2 Military service
* 3 Academic career
* 4 Ambassadorship
* 5 Writings
* 5.1 Political commentary
* 5.2 Middle East history
* 5.3 Fiction
* 7 Legislation
* 8 Published work
* 9 References
* 10 External links
PERSONAL LIFE AND BACKGROUND
Oren was born Michael Scott Bornstein in upstate New York , the son
of Marilyn (née Goldstein), a marriage and family therapist, and
Lester Milton Bornstein, a hospital director. His father had served
as an officer in the
U.S. Army who took part in the
D-Day invasion of
Normandy and in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and participated in
Korean War . Oren grew up in
West Orange, New Jersey , in a
Conservative Jewish household. He attended West Orange High School .
As the only Jewish boy in a heavily Catholic neighborhood, he says he
experienced antisemitism . In his youth, he was an activist in Zionist
and Jewish youth groups such as
United Synagogue Youth . A meeting
with then–Israeli ambassador to the United States,
Yitzhak Rabin ,
strengthened Oren's decision to move to Israel. Reading about Rabin
sparked Oren's interest in the Israeli ambassadorship to Washington, a
post he would eventually attain. Oren won two gold medals at the 1977
Maccabiah Games in rowing, a sport in which he remains active. At age
15, he made his first trip to
Israel with the youth movement Habonim
Dror , working on
Gan Shmuel . In 1973, Oren won first prize
PBS National Young Filmmaker’s contest for the film,
_Comrades in Arms_, which he wrote and directed. In the summer of
1976, he worked as gofer for
Orson Welles .
In 1977 Oren completed his undergraduate degree from Columbia College
. He continued his studies at Columbia, receiving a Masters in
International Affairs in 1978 from the School of International and
Public Affairs , where he was an International Fellow and a DACOR
Fellow. After college, he spent a year as an adviser to the Israeli
delegation to the
United Nations .
In 1979 Oren emigrated to
Israel . Upon assuming Israeli
citizenship, he changed his last name from "Bornstein" to "Oren",
meaning "pine tree" in Hebrew. (He renounced his American citizenship
in 2009 upon his nomination as ambassador to the United States, since
Israeli law prohibits international representatives from holding dual
A few years later Oren returned to the
United States to continue his
education, studying at
Princeton University . In 1986 he earned an MA
and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton.
In 1982 he married Sally Edelstein, who was born in
San Francisco and
Israel in 1981. They have three children. In an
article published in _
The Atlantic _,
Jeffrey Goldberg profiled
Sally's acquaintance with rock stars
Jimi Hendrix ,
Janis Joplin , and
Jefferson Airplane .
Marty Balin , one of the main songwriters of
Jefferson Airplane, wrote two songs about her in the 1960s.
Oren's nephew is comedian
Jon Rudnitsky .
In 1979, Oren began his military service in the
Israel Defense Forces
. He served as a paratrooper in the
1982 Lebanon War . His unit was
caught in a Syrian ambush on the second day of the war. His commander
was killed and nearly everyone was wounded. He then joined a unit
Sidon . A day after his wedding, in the summer of 1982,
Oren returned to Beirut.
Following his regular military service, Oren volunteered to work with
Zionist underground in the
Soviet Union . Sent to make contact
Zionist groups in
Ukraine , he was repeatedly arrested by the
During the Persian
Gulf War he was Israeli liaison officer to the
U.S. Sixth Fleet . He was called up for reserve duty for the 2005
Gaza disengagement , and participated in the evacuation of
settlements. He served as an officer in the IDF Spokesman's Office
2006 Lebanon War . and the 2008–2009 Gaza War .
In February 2009, he delivered a lecture at
Georgetown University on
"The Gaza Operation: A Personal and Historical Perspective". _The
Today Show_ broadcast a special segment, "The Oren Family at War."
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Oren taught at
Hebrew University of
Tel Aviv University . In 1995, during the government of
Yitzhak Rabin , Oren served as an advisor in inter-religious affairs
at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
In 2006, Oren was a visiting professor at both
Harvard University and
Yale University , returning to Yale in 2007. Beginning in 2008, he
became a visiting professor at
Georgetown University 's School of
Foreign Service for the 2008–09 academic year as part of the faculty
associated with the Program for Jewish Civilization.
George W. Bush appointed Oren to serve on the honorary
delegation to accompany him to
Jerusalem for the celebration of the
60th anniversary of the State of
Israel in May 2008.
While working at a think-tank in Jerusalem, Oren publicly opposed the
2003 Iraq war, believing at the time that America "should not get
involved in state-building in a region where states are only held
together by savage central power."
On May 3, 2009, Oren was appointed as ambassador of
Israel to the
United States by
Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu ,
Sallai Meridor . Ambassador Oren had to give up his United
States citizenship in order to assume this post.
Oren strongly criticized the
United Nations Fact Finding Mission on
the Gaza Conflict report, which determined
Israel was guilty of
possible war crimes. In an October 2009 op-ed in _
The New Republic _,
he stated, "The
Goldstone Report goes further than
Ahmadinejad and the
Holocaust deniers by stripping the Jews not only of the ability and
the need but of the right to defend themselves."
In October 2009, Oren declined an invitation to attend a conference
J Street , an
Israel advocacy group, which has been critical
Israel government's foreign policy. Oren called
J Street "a
unique problem" and that "it's significantly out of the mainstream."
However, the two have since come to a more congenial understanding,
with Oren stating that "
J Street has now come and supported
Congressman Berman 's Iran sanction bill; it has condemned the
Goldstone Report; it has denounced the British court's decision to try
Tzipi Livni for war crimes, which puts
J Street much more into the
Oren has initiated
Israel outreach events for Irish Americans,
Latino and LGBT leadership, and the Chinese embassy. He hosted the
Israeli embassy’s first
On February 8, 2010, Oren spoke at the University of California,
Irvine . During his speech Oren was interrupted by 11 protesters who
shouted, "Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of
free speech ," and "How many Palestinians did you kill?" The
outburst and subsequent arrest of the protesters sparked controversy
over whether the protesters were exercising free speech, as they
claimed they were, or whether it was a suppression of free speech
(i.e., of the right of Oren and his audience to a free exchange of
ideas), as university officials claimed. On September 23, 2011, a
jury convicted 10 Muslim students, 7 from UC Irvine and 3 from UC
Riverside , of disrupting Oren's February 2010 speech. The charges
and conviction were criticized by civil liberties advocates, as well
as both Jewish and Muslim student groups.
Oren has lectured at universities across the United States, including
Tufts University ,
George Washington University ,
Harvard University ,
Emory University ,
University of California, Davis , University of
Northeastern University ,
Northwestern University , Penn
Rice University ,
Dickinson College , Florida International
Columbia University ,
University of Maryland , American
University , the
Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at
University of Southern California and the
United States Naval
Gaza flotilla raid
Gaza flotilla raid in May 2010, Oren wrote an op-ed in
The New York Times _, "An Assault, Cloaked in Peace", in which he
accused the organizers of the flotilla of attempting to "create a
provocation" in order to "put international pressure on
Israel to drop
Gaza embargo ". He further made the claim that the _
Mavi Marmara _
was "a vessel too large to be neutralized by technical means".
Oren attempted to influence a critical 2012 CBS report by Bob Simon
about Palestinian Christians in Israel, with some calling his
interference an attempt to silence the American media. Oren responded
that at no point had he tried to prevent the _
60 Minutes _ report,
rather that he offered suggestions for balancing the segment.
On July 5, 2013, he announced that he would be leaving his post as
ambassador to the
United States in fall 2013. According to the
Israeli daily _
Haaretz _, insiders say that Oren wanted to keep his
job, but was removed because Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu 's
Ron Dermer wanted the envoy post.
Oren has received four honorary doctorates and has delivered
commencement speeches at Brandeis, Monmouth University, and Yeshiva
University. In 2011, he received the Outstanding Achievers with
Learning Disabilities Award from the Lab School of Washington, D.C.
He delivered the keynote address at 2012 Equality Forum on LGBT rights
Oren has written many articles commenting on current political
issues. Before assuming his diplomatic post, he published frequently
in the _
New York Times
New York Times _, the _
Wall Street Journal _, and _The New
Republic _, where he was a contributing editor. He appeared on
_Charlie Rose _, _
The Daily Show
The Daily Show _, the _Today Show_, and he _John
Batchelor Show_. As ambassador, he has published nearly forty op-eds
and has given dozens of television interviews, including
Bill Maher ,
Colbert Report _, _The View_ , and _The Situation Room _ with Wolf
His two full-length articles "Israel: The Ultimate Ally" and
"Israel's Resilient Democracy", were published in _
Foreign Policy _
In July 2014 Oren argued against a ceasefire and for the continuation
2014 Israel–Gaza conflict , calling on the international
community to leave
Israel alone to defang and deprive Hamas of its
heavy arms and make it pay a "prohibitive cost."
On June 15, 2015 Oren gave a speech at the Leonardo Hotel in
Jerusalem , in which he said that the Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions (BDS) movement poses a "strategic threat" to Israel, which
needs to fight it "like a war, which it is". He also warned that the
U.S. is gambling with Israel's future over Iran, saying that the U.S.
"can afford to make a mistake" with them, while "
Israel has zero room
for error", adding: "The
United States has the most powerful army in
all of history, they're thousands of miles away from Iran, and they
don't feel any direct threat.
Israel is in Iran's backyard, and faces
a clear and direct threat from Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah and
Hamas. The IDF is a strong military force, but does not have the
capacity and magnitude the US Army has to deter aggression."
Also during June 2015, an op-ed piece by Oren published in the _Wall
Street Journal _ claimed that
Barack Obama had deliberately sabotaged
US-Israeli relations, resulting in
Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon
distancing himself and the party from Oren's stated views. Shortly
afterwards another article by Oren was published by _
Foreign Policy _,
which argued that Obama's outreach to the Muslim world as highlighted
Cairo speech was partly rooted in "abandonment" by his father
and stepfather . Oren was criticised by
Abe Foxman of the
Anti-Defamation League , who said that Oren's theorising "veers into
the realm of conspiracy theories... with an element of amateur
psychoanalysis", and characterised the _Foreign Policy_ article as
In 2015, Oren published _Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli
Divide_ (June 2015), which aimed to describe the recent state of
Israel–US relations. The book has received both praise and
criticism, including a negative review by
Philip Gordon , the White
House's "point man" for the Middle East during Oren's time as
ambassador, titled "Bibi's man in D.C., still spinning for the boss."
In response to its controversial reception, Oren stated: "So far a lot
of things have been said about me. ... I obviously touched a nerve."
Noah Efron wrote in _
Haaretz _ that the book, which continued the
self-professed "armchair psychoanalyzing" of the U.S. President,
"meshes snugly with the racist fantasies of rabid right-wing bloggers
and so-called birthers who see in Barack Obama’s African father and
Indonesian stepfather indications that he is not a real American."
Efron also chided Oren for failing to assign any responsibility to
Israeli for the decline in US-
Israel relations, calling the book
MIDDLE EAST HISTORY
Power, Faith and Fantasy _, a history of American involvement in the
Middle East, was published by Norton and quickly became a _New York
Times _ bestseller. _Power, Faith and Fantasy_ earned positive reviews
Newsweek _, _
The Washington Post _, _
The New York Times Book
Review _, the _
San Francisco Chronicle _, and the _
Willamette Week _.
Six Days of War _ is an historical account of the events of
Six-Day War between
Israel and its Arab neighbors. The book was
widely praised by critics and won the
Los Angeles Times Book Prize
for History and the National Jewish Book Award. It spent seven weeks
on the _
New York Times
New York Times _ bestseller list. _
The New York Times Book
Review _ wrote positively of _Six Days of War_, as did the
Washington Post _, which called it "not only the best book so far
written on the Six Day War, it is likely to remain the best". Oren's
Ph.D. thesis, "The Origins of the Second Arab-
Israel War: Israel,
Egypt, and the Great Powers, 1952-1956," was published in 1992.
Oren has written two works of fiction. _Sand Devil_, published in
2000, is a trilogy of novellas set in the
Negev desert. _Reunion_,
based on his father’s stories from
World War II
World War II , appeared in 2004.
Oren was given the fourth spot on the list of the new
before Israel's 2015 elections, adding foreign policy credentials to a
party that campaigned almost exclusively on economic issues. He was
elected and, on March 31, sworn in as a Member of Israel's 20th
Knesset, serving on its Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. On
August 1, 2016, it was announced that Oren would be appointed as
deputy minister in charge of public diplomacy.
Oren supported the creation of a new Israeli national holiday, Yom
Hebrew : יום העלייה, _
Aliyah Day_) to be
celebrated annually on the tenth of the
Hebrew month of
: י’ ניסן). On 21 June 2016 the
Knesset voted in favor
of adding Yom Ha
Aliyah to the national calendar. The Yom HaAliyah
bill was co-sponsored by
Knesset members from different parties in a
rare instance of cooperation across the political spectrum. The day
chosen for Yom Ha
Aliyah is, according to the biblical narrative, the
Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan River at
Promised Land . It was thus the first documented "mass Aliyah".
Six Days of War : June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle
East_. Presidio Press. (2002) ISBN 978-0-345-46192-6 .
* _Reunion_. New York: Plume. (2003) ISBN 978-1-931561-26-6 .
Power, Faith and Fantasy : The
United States in the Middle East,
1776 to 2006_. New York: W.W. Norton -webkit-column-width: 30em;
column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ "Israeli Ambassador Draws on American Roots".
* ^ Oren, Michael (May 27, 2017). "
Michael Oren Dating". Maariv.
Retrieved May 27, 2017.
* ^ "
Michael Oren appointed Deputy Minister of the Prime
Minister\'s office". _The
Jerusalem Post JPost.com_. Retrieved
* ^ "
Michael Oren appointed to US envoy role", _
Jerusalem Post _,
May 2, 2009
* ^ _A_ _B_ "
Ron Dermer officially named Israel’s U.S.
ambassador". _JTA_. July 9, 2013. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
* ^ "Mr. Oren goes to
Jerusalem (from Washington)". _Ha'aretz_.
March 20, 2015. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Ginsberg, Johanna. "Former New Jerseyan to be Israel\'s
Envoy to U.S.; Author
Michael Oren was Mountain High and Princeton
New Jersey Jewish News _, May 7, 2009. Accessed November 19,
* ^ Turk Rosenblatt, Judith (1987). _Who's Who in World Jewry: A
Biographical Dictionary of Outstanding Jews_. Who's Who in World
Jewry. p. 64. ISBN 0961827203 .
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ "Enjoying Every Minute", _
Haaretz _ Archived
September 30, 2009, at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth . "Israeli Diplomat Is Man in Middle", _New
York Times _, September 17, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012. "Raised
in a conservative Jewish family in West Orange, N.J., Mr. Oren worked
on a kibbutz at 15, was educated at Princeton and Columbia, immigrated
Israel and spent multiple tours in the Israeli Army...."
* ^ "Commemoration of Prime Minister Rabin\'s z"l 90th Birthday",
Embassy of Israel, February 29, 2012 Archived March 8, 2012, at the
Wayback Machine .
C-SPAN Transcript of 2002 Interview with Michael Oren
* ^ "Michael B. Oren". _www.writersreps.com_. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ "An interview with Michael Oren", _The
Jerusalem Post _,
January 18, 2007.
* ^ "Princeton - Weekly Bulletin 11/18/02 - Nassau Notes".
_www.princeton.edu_. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ "Israels new ambassador to U.S. has strong S.F. ties". _J_.
2009-05-08. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ Ambassador
Michael Oren Biography
* ^ Goldberg, Jeffrey. "Six Degrees of Sally Oren". _The Atlantic_.
* ^ "MK
Michael Oren congratulates nephew on joining cast of SNL".
Jerusalem Post JPost.com_. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Archived index at the
Wayback Machine .
Michael Oren's Official Website
* ^ "Oren\'s work with the
Zionist underground", _Haaretz_,
September 27, 2009.
* ^ "Israeli Soldier Oren Shares Gaza Story News The Harvard
Crimson". _www.thecrimson.com_. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ Oren in the Spokesman\'s Office during the 2008–09
Israel–Gaza conflict, _The New Republic_, January 4, 2009.
* ^ _Michael Oren, Gaza Lecture Part 1_, January 28, 2009 on
* ^ _Today Show Segment on Oren Family at War_, April 6, 2012
* ^ "Center for Jewish Civilization Georgetown University".
_pjc.georgetown.edu_. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ "Georgetown University". _explore.georgetown.edu_. Retrieved
* ^ "Bush Visit May Boost Olmert - The New York Sun".
_www.nysun.com_. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ DEPARTING AS AMBASSADOR, MICHAEL OREN IS STILL WORKING TO
BRIDGE OBAMA-BIBI GAP By Lee Smith September 25, 2013, Tablet Magazine
* ^ Mark Landler (25 September 2009). "Israeli Ambassador Draws on
American Roots". _
The New York Times _.
* ^ Michael B. Oren (10 June 2009). "Deep Denial: Why The Holocaust
Still Matters". _
The New Republic _.
* ^ Ambassador Oren Celebrates Irish Culture on
YouTube , March 30,
* ^ Ambassador Oren holds Hispanic outreach event, December 15,
* ^ Ambassador Oren Hosts
Iftar Dinner, _Huffington Post_, August
* ^ Raja Abdulrahim (February 9, 2010). "11 students arrested after
disrupting Israeli ambassador\'s speech at UC Irvine". Los Angeles
Times. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
* ^ Natasha Mozgovaya (9 February 2010). "Muslim students scream
Israel envoy speech in Irvine, California.
Afterwards the students were peacefully escorted out of the hall,
given citations, and let go.". Ha'aretz. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
* ^ "On campus, is heckling free speech? Or just rude? -
USATODAY.com". _www.usatoday.com_. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ _A_ _B_ "US court: Students guilty of disrupting Israeli
* ^ _
Michael Oren Speaks to the U.S. Naval Academy,_ February 23,
* ^ Michael B. Oren (June 2, 2010). "An Assault, Cloaked in Peace".
The New York Times. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
* ^ "Christians of the Holy Land". CBS News. Retrieved April 22,
* ^ _A_ _B_ Mozgovaya, Natasha (3 May 2012). "Obama corrects
controversial Jewish Heritage Month proclamation". _Haaretz_.
Retrieved 3 May 2012.
* ^ Ambassador Oren\'s Letter to 60 Minutes, _BuzzFeed_, April 26,
* ^ JTA (July 10, 2013). "American Jewish groups welcome choice of
Netanyahu\'s right hand man as U.S. envoy". _Haaretz_. Retrieved July
* ^ Michael Oren\'s Address to Brandeis, Brandeis, May 23, 2010]
* ^ Michael Oren\'s Address to Monmouth University, Monmouth
University, January 13, 2012
* ^ Ambassador Michael B. Oren Addresses Yeshiva University
_Yeshiva University_, June 1, 2010
* ^ Ambassador Oren\'s Address to the Lab School, _Embassy of
* ^ Ambassador Oren\'s Speech to the Equality Forum on LGBT Rights
in Israel, _Embassy of Israel_, May 5, 2012
* ^ From The TNR Archives: Michael B. Oren, _The New Republic_
website, April 21, 2009.
* ^ Daily Show Interview with Michael Oren, _The Daily Show_.
* ^ The Ultimate Ally, _Foreign Policy_, May 2011.
* ^ Israel\'s Resilient Democracy, _Foreign Policy_, April 5, 2012.
* ^ "Ex Israeli ambassador slams ceasefir". _
Retrieved 28 July 2014.
* ^ unitedwithisrael.org
* ^ Heilbrunn, Jacob (6 July 2015). "Michael B. Oren’s ‘Ally:
My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide’". _nytimes.com _.
Retrieved 19 July 2015.
* ^ Oren, Michael (19 June 2015). "How Obama Opened His Heart to
the ‘Muslim World’". _
Foreign Policy _. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
* ^ Lewis, Avi (22 June 2015). "ADL demands
Michael Oren walk back
‘unjustified attack’ on Obama". _The Times of
Israel _. Retrieved
19 July 2015.
* ^ With ‘Ally,’
Michael Oren lifts the veil on U.S.-Israel
relations June 21, 2015 by Ben Cohen / JNS.org
* ^ Michael Oren, were you disappointed by the state of American
Jewry? A conversation by Shmuel Rosner, _Jewish Journal_, June 22nd
* ^ Gordon, Philip (June 26, 2015). "Bibi\'s man in D.C., still
spinning for the boss". _
The Washington Post _. Retrieved June 28,
* ^ Michael Oren: I obviously touched a nerve _
Newsletter Friday June 26, 2015
* ^ _A_ _B_ Efron, Noah (2015-07-06). "Michael Oren’s \'Ally’ a
Zionist Book". _Haaretz_. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
* ^ "How America Met the