Michael Oren, who may become Israel's ambassador to the United States, is a friend of mine, so I haven't commented on his possible appointment, but now that David Rothkopf, who is also a friend of Oren's, has weighed in, I will too, mostly by quoting David. Minor controversies seem to erupting in Israel about Oren's past statements (he is an accomplished historian and a frequent commentator on the Middle East, so there is a great big body of past statements to dissect). Gershom Gorenberg astutely points out that, depending on which Israeli newspaper you read, Oren is either too hawkish, or too dovish, for the job. Here is Rothkopf on the article that is drawing the most attention:
While he did indeed write an academic article that speculated about the consequences of the possible election of either Barack Obama or John McCain, it was not only an admirably thoughtful, fact-based, balanced and accurate piece (and do let's try to remember he is the possible Israeli Ambassador to the United States and not the other way around) but he is distinguished among leading experts on these issues by his broad bi-partisan base of admirers in the United States including - and I can say with absolute certainty -- many at high levels within the Obama administration. As for categorizing his views as being too close to the neocons, that's just a distortion and reflects a deep misunderstanding of Michael's views which have often diverged with that group (or those closely associated with it in Israel) whether on Iraq or on the issue of how to handle the question of settlements on the West Bank and, in fact, are difficult to categorize except to say that they are exceptionally and consistently well-informed and independent.
I'll leave it here for now, but I think Michael would be a terrific choice for the post: No one is better qualified to explain America to Israelis and to explain Israel to Americans than Michael. And no one is smarter.