In the CIA’s early years, the agency’s Middle East policy focused on opposing both Communism and Zionism. The main architect of this policy was Kermit Roosevelt (grandson of Theodore), who, like many of the CIA’s founding figures, belonged to “a fading patrician class of American Protestants—with deep ties to elite universities like Harvard and Yale, and to missionaries with connections throughout the Middle East.” Asaf Romirowsky explains the strategy, and its latter-day legacy:
In 1948, Roosevelt and leading anti-Zionist Virginia Gildersleeve, a former dean of Barnard College, had formed the Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, which warned that “extreme Zionist pressure” was in “danger of disruption of our national unity and encouraging anti-Semitism.” The group worked in close coordination with the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, and with State Department officials. Roosevelt kept forming [other] anti-Israel groups, such as 1949’s Holy Land Christian Committee, ostensibly to assist Christians in Israel. . . .
[This history] helps explain how modern NGOs’ evergreen anti-Zionist views remain cornerstones today, along with the convenient core belief that all Middle East problems reside in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Characterizing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other Zionist groups as the center of a nefarious “Israel lobby” is also not new.