In 1951, the CIA secretly funded the creation of an ostensibly private group of US citizens called the American Friends of the Middle East (AFME). Pro-Arab and anti-Zionist in orientation, AFME was repeatedly attacked by pro-Israel groups before seeing its links to the CIA exposed by investigative journalists in 1967. Drawing on recent scholarship about “state–private networks” and the cultural history of US–Middle East relations, this article examines the origins of AFME, its characteristic values and relations with the CIA, and the reasons for the decline of its influence vis-à-vis the emergent “Israel lobby.”
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