Thursday, May 7, 2009

Michael Oren Chosen as Israeli Ambassador

Michael Oren, who was our 2007 Hoffman Lecturer and who also spoke to our 2005 Israel Adventure group during the Gaza evacuation, has been chosen as Israel's new ambassador to the US. It is a brilliant choice, as Oren is a superb communicator, who understands America and American Jews.

Here is an abstact of a recent article written by Oren for Commentary:

Existential Threats from Iran - Michael B. Oren
Rarely in modern history have nations faced genuine existential threats. Wars are waged to change regimes, alter borders, acquire resources, and impose ideologies, but almost never to eliminate another state and its people. Yet the State of Israel copes with numerous existential threats on a daily basis. The most manifest existential threat from a nuclear-armed Iran emanates from its routinely declared desire to "wipe Israel off the map," and from the fact that cold war calculi of nuclear deterrence through mutually assured destruction may not apply to Islamist radicals eager for martyrdom.

Beyond the perils of an Iranian first-strike attack against Israel, the possibility exists that Iran will transfer its nuclear capabilities to terrorist groups, which will then unleas h them on Israel via the country's porous ports and border crossings. A nuclear Iran will also deny Israel the ability to respond to terrorist attacks: in response to an Israeli retaliation against Hizbullah, for example, Iran would go on nuclear alert. Finally, and most menacing, many Middle Eastern states have declared their intention to develop nuclear capabilities of their own once Iran acquires the bomb.

Israel cannot allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel should work in close tandem with the U.S., supporting the current administration's diplomatic efforts to dissuade the Iranians from going nuclear. But Israel must not allow its hands to be tied - it must remain free to initiate other, covert measures to impede Iran's nuclear program, while continuing to develop the plans and intelligence necessary for a military operation.
The writer is the new Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. (Commentary)

Here's a news release from the Rabbinical Assembly hailing that selection:

New York, NY (May 7, 2009) -- The leaders of the Rabbinical Assembly, which represents Conservative rabbis worldwide, greet the appointment of Michael Oren to the position of Israeli Ambassador to the United States with enthusiasm and a measure of personal pride.

The product of a Conservative Jewish upbringing in New Jersey, Dr. Oren has spoken before the RA at their national convention, most recently in the winter of 2004, right after the publication of his book, Six Days of War. With this award-winning book catapulting him onto the international scene, his incisive articles on Israel became the fodder for sermons, debates and discussions among much of the Conservative rabbinate over the past half decade.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the incoming executive vice president of the RA terms Michael Oren an “iconic figure whose intellect and communication abilities are without peer in contemporary political life. No one today can argue the case for Israel in quite the way that he can,” she reiterated. “Whether in his IDF uniform in front of CNN’s cameras or on the pages of the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, Michael Oren has been acting as a de facto ambassador for Israel for quite some time.”

At this week’s AIPAC conference in Washington where Dr. Oren spoke, the overwhelming majority of rabbis who were in attendance are Conservative.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Rabbi Schonfeld. “On matters of Israel, as well as the other pressing issues of the day, Conservative rabbis predominate in public life. We look forward to working together with Ambassador Oren.”

The official naming of Dr. Oren as Israeli Ambassador to the United States coincided with the announcement of the creation of a first-ever Office of Public Policy for the Rabbinical Assembly in Washington, DC. Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim Congregation in Arlington, VA, is the director of this office.

The new Public Policy initiative of the RA is built on a five-point agenda which will include Social Justice Partnerships; The Washington Public Policy Office; Israeli Advocacy; Interfaith Work; and Hekhsher Tzedek, a star project of the Conservative movement which is focused on creating an ethical certification process for kosher foods.

It is expected that the head of the Israel Advocacy agenda will be named next week.

The establishment of the RA’s Public Policy office builds on the tradition of the timely and relevant resolutions which are passed yearly by the voting members of the Assembly, typically in the course of their annual conventions. Many of these resolutions have to do with Israel. The resolutions of the RA can be viewed at

The Washington-based Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg, president of the RA and rabbi emeritus of Adas Israel praised the choice of the Netanyahu government, stating, “Michael Oren is in a league of his own. He is well connected in all the right places, he is a respected scholar of the Middle East and he is part of the Obama generation. And he sprang from our movement. As Conservative rabbis, naturally we share a bit of naches over his appointment.”

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