Michael Oren

March 4

Statesman, historian, soldier, author, Michael Oren has had a long and distinguished career.

Born in New York and educated at Princeton and Columbia, he was a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown. He has received fellowships from the US State Department and the British and Canadian governments. He was the Lady Davis Fellow at Hebrew University, a Moshe Dayan Fellow at Tel Aviv University, and the Ambassadorial Scholar at the Atlantic Council. Oren holds four degrees in Middle East history and has received four honorary doctorates.

Moving to Israel in the 1970s and joining the IDF, Dr. Oren served as a lone soldier in the paratroopers. He fought in the 1982 Lebanon War, and later served as an army spokesman in the Second Lebanon War and several Gaza operations, reaching the rank of major. He served as an advisor to Israel’s delegation to the UN, to former Foreign Minister Abba Evan, and to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. A passionate oarsman, he won two gold medals in the Maccabiah Games.

In 2009, Michael Oren was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Interacting with the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, and the CIA, he dealt with crucial strategic issues such as the Iron Dome defense system and the Iran nuclear threat. He reached out to communities across America, spoke on numerous campuses, and defended Israel in the media. He received the Statesman of the Year Medal from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Dr. Martin Luther King Legacy Prize for International Service.

Returning to Israel, Oren was elected to Knesset—Israel’s parliament—where he headed a classified committee on international affairs and served as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, in charge of diplomacy. He made state visits to Europe, Central America, and the Far East. Politico named him as one of the fifty most influential thinkers in America, by the Forward as one of the five most influential Jews in America, and the Jerusalem Post as one of the ten most influential Jews worldwide.

Oren has written numerous books. His last three works of non-fiction—Six Days of War, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, and Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide—were all New York Times bestsellers. He won the Los Angeles Times History Jewish Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and a National Humanities Prize. He is currently working on the history of Israel’s War of Independence, to be published by Random House.

Michael Oren has also been a prominent figure in the media, serving as Middle East analyst for both CNN and CBS news. He has had appeared on the Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher shows, 60 Minutes, and the View. His collected essays and op-eds, published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Atlantic, total some 700 pages. NPR listed him among the best college commencement speakers ever.

Throughout, Michael Oren has been a writer of fiction. A teen poet, he later won the PBS National Young Filmmakers Award and wrote for both Hollywood and stage. His two novels and collections of stories draw on his diverse experiences. His latest novel, Swann’s War, was hailed by Kirkus Review as “intriguing, wonderfully delineated, and tension-filled,” and awarded it the coveted star.

Since leaving public office, Michael Oren has represented Israeli high tech abroad and served as an advisor to United Hatzalah, the Secure Community Network, and other NGOs. He is the president of the Hadas Malka Center, which supports Israel Border Police and their families, and is the founder of Israel 2048, dedicated to stimulating and facilitating dialogue on Israel’s future. His book, 2048 – The Rejuvenated State, was published in English, Hebrew, and Arabic in 2023.

Michael Oren is the father of three and the grandfather of six—his proudest achievements.