WASHINGTON — A group of American Jewish leaders met with Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead on Thursday to express "very deep concern" over U.S. criticism of Israel's treatment of demonstrators in Gaza and on the West Bank.
Morris B. Abram, an Atlanta lawyer who led the delegation, said the Arab protesters were not college campus demonstrators. "They come with Molotov cocktails and gasoline bombs," he said. "They come not to make a point but to overthrow" Israeli rule.
"It was a valuable exchange of viewpoints," department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said. "We are always happy to have their views."
But she said the State Department had not changed its mind about Israel's use of force against Arab protesters. "We will do what we feel is appropriate and called for," Oakley said. Two weeks of rioting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has left 21 people dead.
Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, described U.S. criticism this week of Israel as "a bump in the road."