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Edward P. Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Syria, said the U.S. election has “put us in a very positive light that will have to be augmented by public diplomacy that reflects our values and our interests.”

Mr. Djerejian, author of a new book, “Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey through the Middle East,” urged Mr. Obama to stress “conflict resolution over conflict management” when it comes to the Arab-Israeli dispute in particular.

“Eighty percent of popular opinion in the Middle East is their perceptions of our policy,” he said.

The Academy of Diplomacy has urged the next president to reduce the number of political appointees as U.S. ambassadors.

Few career diplomats expect that to happen, given the large number of major contributors to the Obama campaign, but they said the selection process should be more rigorous than in the past.

“I don’t expect to see only qualified people appointed to political ambassadorships,” said Ronald Neumann, the academy’s president and a former ambassador to Afghanistan.

“But it remains true that it is in America’s national interest to do so, and that the appointment of the unqualified for reasons of political payoff is scarcely ‘change you can believe in.’”