As part of an apparent effort by the Carter administration to cool off its dispute with Israel, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance conferred with leaders of the American-Jewish community yesterday in what the participants called an "amicable" meeting.
The meeting, arranged at Vance's initiative, appeared to mark a new attempt by the administration to move away from the acrimony that broke out between Israel and the United States last week after the failure of Vance's mediating shuttle mission to the Middle East.
At the time, Israel's rejection of changes sought by Egypt in the proposed peace treaty caused President Carter to praise Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for "generous" concessions. Other administration officials, both publicly and privately, blamed the breakdown in the peace talks on Israeli refusal to compromise.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's cabinet formally rejected "the attitude and interpretation" of the United States with tilting toward Egypt and failing to act as an impartial mediator in the U.S.-sponsored negotiations.
Since the weekend, however, the administration has been making an obvious effort to pull back from the public exchange of accusations and adopt a low profile in dealing with Israel. The aim now, administration sources say privately, is not to afix blame for the deadlock, but to find a means of getting the treaty negotiations moving again.
To emphasize that point, a group of prominent Jewish community leaders, headed by Ted Mann, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was invited to a three-hour session at the State Department yesterday.
In addition to talking with Vance, the group also received detailed briefings on the status of the negotiations and the administration's position from Alfred L. Atherton J., Vance's roving envoy for the Middle East, and Harold H. Saunders, assistant secretary for Middle Eastern Affairs.
One participant, Maxwell E. Greenberg, national chairman of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, characterized the session by saying:
"There was no acrimony, no raised voices. I got the impression that last week's shouting was a departure from the Camp David low-profile approach and that there's now an attitude of carrying on without fighting it out in the newspapers."
"There didn't tell us what's likely to happen as to timing and method," Greenberg continued, "but they made clear their desire to get the talks going again. The secretary and the others clearly share our concern that the peace process shouldn't be abandoned."
When the delegation expressed concern about the alleged tilt toward Egypt, Greenberg said, Vance and his aides responded that the United States regards the points under dispute as "negotiable issues" and is interested in their being discussed rather than having solutions imposed on either party.
Greenberg said the department officials took him pains to stress that a controversial statement last week by Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) about a possible congressional cut in aid to Israel did not reflect administration policy.
"I went into the meeting thinking the Byrd statement had been an administration trial balloon," Greenberg said "I came out thinking otherwise."
However, in New York yesterday, a group of American Jews who publicly criticized Begin last spring sent a telegram to Carter saving it now finds the administration's criticisms of Israel unacceptable.
The message was organized by Leonard Fein, editor of Movement magazine, and was signed by 33 of the 36 persons who criticized Begin in a well-publicized telegram to the Israel Peace Now group last April.
Their message to Carter said, in part, "We regret that the brilliant achievement of Camp David has now been seriously endangered not only by the Egyptian proposals but also by the unfortunate posture of the American government. . .In our view, it does serious damage to the prospects of peace."