The Camp David summit agreements left Jews and Arabs sharply divided throughout the Washington area yesterday, stirring renewed hopes among Israel's supporters but prompting dismay among many Arab-Americans.
"It's the miracle of television which makes you feel you're sharing the history of the moment - seeing Sadat and Begin embrace one another," Rabbi Louis J. Cashdan, president of the Washington Board of Rabbis, said during an interview yesterday in which he described himself as causiously optimistic about peace prospects in the Middle East.
"Somehow or other I felt part of it - I felt they were putting on more than a show."
For Yusif Farsakh, the Palestinian-born president of the Washington chapter of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, the Mideast accords Proved deeply toubling.
"Camp David did not take into account the Palestinians," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm deeply disappointed."
In considerable measure, the reactions of Jews and Arab-Americans here to President Carter's summit with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin mirrored views expressed by their counterparts in Israel and some Arab countries.
Leaders of the Washington area's Jewish community voiced considerable optimism because they believed the summit had revived long-stalled Mideast negotiations. Some prominent Arabs and Arab-Americans here expressed disappointment because they feared the Sadat-Begin accords would lead to a separate Eyptian-Israeli peace agreement without providing for self-determination for Palestinian Arabs.
"This represents a great step forward," said Daniel Mann, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, an umbrella agency for nearly 200 Jewish groups.
"It's very promising and very exciting," said Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz, leader of Adas Israel Congregation and former president of the Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of Conservative rabbis. "It can no longer be derailed."
Yet hisham Sharabi, president of the National Association of Arab Americans, dismissed such speculation about Mideast peace prospects.
"Slowly another picture begins to dawn. It's not that rosy," he said in an interview. "There are so many loopholes. There is so much vagueness. The present euphoria is not warranted."
"This is an agreement that does not take into serious consideration the Arab consensus," said Clovis Maksoud, a Washington-based editor of the Lebanese weekly An Nahar International and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies here.
"It tends to move Egypt into a separate agreement." he said.
Despite their widely conflicting views, both Jews and Arabs here expressed a note of caution as they discussed the Camp David summit, partly because they had not yet had time to study the agreements and partly because major events still were unfolding.
Several leaders of the Washington area's Jewish community said that, despite their optimism, many possible obstackes remain before Israel may arrive at a peace settlement with Egypt or other Arab nations. Some also expressed concern because of uncertainies surrounding Jordan's and Saudi Arabia's reactions to the Camp David summit.
"We have to awati the word (from Jordan and Saudi Arabia)." said Hyman H. Bookbinder. Washington representative of the American Jewish Committee.
Some prominent Arabs and Arab-Americans here qualified their pessimistic observations by praising President Carter's overall Mideast peace efforts. Shorabi of the National Assn. of Arab Awareness said it would be counterproductive to criticize Carter without awaiting further developments.