Michael Oren joins CNN as analyst and contributor

Ex-Israeli envoy to the US sees position as opportunity to give "balance, insightful commentary on Israel, Mideast issues."

January 14, 2014 16:47
2 minute read.
Michael Oren JPost conference April 28 2013

Michael Oren. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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In a flash, former ambassador to the US Michael Oren has gone from the fire into the frying pan.

Oren, who as Israel’s envoy to Washington from July 2009 until September of 2013 was often grilled on the nightly news about Israeli policy by various news networks such as CNN, has now joined CNN as an analyst and contributor.

He appeared on air as an analyst three times in the last week and also penned an obituary on Ariel Sharon for the CNN website.

This is not the first time Israeli ambassadors have made the jump from diplomat to network analyst, though it is believed to be the first time a former Israeli ambassador has signed a contract with CNN.

Oren, who now lives in Tel Aviv, told The Jerusalem Post that he saw the position as an opportunity to give “balanced but insightful commentary on pressing Israeli and Middle East issues.”

He said that what made CNN attractive was that it has not only a large domestic US audience but also a strong international reach.

“In terms of getting the message across, it is quite a large and diverse audience,” he said.

Oren’s piece on Sharon attracted attention because he wrote that as US Secretary of State John Kerry pursues a peace agreement, Sharon’s unilateralism is “once again being discussed.”

“A growing number of Israelis are asking, ‘What happens if the process fails?’” Oren wrote.

“One solution could be a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian population centers in the West Bank. As in the disengagement from Gaza, the United States would endorse this move, but unlike in Gaza, most Israeli settlements would remain within Israel, and Israeli troops would still patrol strategic borders. Of course, the preferable solution is two states for two peoples. But if that proves unattainable, then Israel can still end the occupation of the Palestinians, preserve its security, and perhaps lay new foundations for peace.”

Oren did not spell out in the piece who exactly was discussing this option.

Oren, one government official said, “is no longer working for the government, is a respected historian, and was a tremendous ambassador who will be writing books and giving lectures. Today he is a private citizen, and the views he represents are his own.”

In addition to his work at CNN, Oren holds the Abba Eban Chair in International Diplomacy at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and is an ambassadorial fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

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