One of the leaders of American Jewry and President Carter's national security affairs adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, engaged in angry though indirect public exchange yesterday that alarmed other Jewish leaders.
The exchange occurred in an article in The New York Times that quoted Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of major American Jewish Organizations, on the "anger" in the Jewish community at the Carter administration, particularly Brzezinski.
Brzezinski answered Schindler with angry comments of his own, accusing Jewish activists of depicting him as an anti-Semite and trying to intimidate both him and the administration.
Other Jewish leaders interviewed by The Washington Post yesterday criticised Schindler for making a public, personal attack on Brzezinski - another indication of tense emotions.
Philip Klutznick, president of the World Jewish Congress, said: "I don't think we have reached a point where it serves any purpose to be calling names or questioning motives."
Rabbi Israel Miller, Schindler's predecessor as head of the conference of presidents, said the Schindler Brzezinski exchange was "terribly unfortunate."
The original exchange and reaction to it were indications of the intense emotions within the American Jewish community on the eve of Prime Minister Menachem Begin's visit to Washington next week, according to numerous sources.
Concern that Begin may be pressing too hard a line in the peace talks coupled with deep fears about the course of the Carter administtration's Mideast policy have left many of these people in an ambivalent and distressed state of mind, they said.
"Thoughtful people would be bound to be disturbed bu begin's performance," said one member of Congress noted for his longtime support of Israel. (He asked not to be identified.) Others echoed the same thought.
Schindlersaid in an interview yesterday that there were differences among American Jews on the Mideast issue, "but that should not be read by the administration as an erosion of support for Israel. If American Jews sense that the administration is bringing unfair pressures on Israel," he added, "that will unite the community in its support for Begin."