Michael Oren
Michael Oren. Photo by Bloomberg
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Reuters
Michael Oren, outgoing Israeli ambassador to the United States. Photo by Reuters

Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, has joined CNN as a commentator on the Middle East, JTA reported Thursday, quoting the news channel. 

The U.S.-born Oren, who handed over his ambassadorial post in September to Ron Dermer, was very popular with American Jewish groups during his four-year stint in Washington. Before that, he wrote two best-selling books of history - "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."

Oren, 58, is considered a center-rightist on the Israeli political map. Before his appointment as ambassador in 2009, he publicly favored unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank. As ambassador, however, he naturally toed the Netanyahu government's hawkish line. He came to diplomacy from Jerusalem's Shalem Center, a conservative think tank funded by Sheldon Adelson, among others.

As ambassador, he had an awkward encounter with TV coverage of the Middle East in April 2012 when, during an interview with 60 Minutes about Christians in the Holy Land, he was chided by interviewer Bob Simon for complaining to CBS about the piece before it was aired.

“Mr. Ambassador, I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve received lots of reactions from just about everyone I’ve done stories about. But I’ve never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn’t been broadcast yet,” said Simon.
“Well, there’s a first time for everything, Bob,” replied Oren.